HSENI Workplace Transport Initiative Northern Ireland

HSENI Workplace Transport Initiative Northern Ireland - 2 yellow lifting platforms for construction working on site which is all grey cement and sun shining in the background

HSENI Workplace Transport Initiative Northern Ireland

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The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is taking proactive measures to ensure the safety of workers in the manufacturing sector. They have announced a comprehensive workplace transport initiative targeting manufacturing premises across Northern Ireland.

The inspection campaign, set to commence in September 2023, will span several months. This initiative emphasizes HSENI’s commitment to mitigating risks associated with workplace transport.

A Word from HSENI’s Principal Inspector: Anne Boylan, the HSENI Principal Inspector for Manufacturing, shed light on the pressing need for such a campaign. She remarked, “Workplace transport incidents remain a significant concern, often resulting in fatalities and severe injuries within the manufacturing sector. Predominant causes include falls from vehicles, collisions, and vehicle overturns.”

Check out: Health and Safety statistics at work for Scotland and Northern Ireland

She further added, “Starting this September, our team of HSENI Inspectors will be making rounds across various premises in Northern Ireland. Our primary objective is to ensure that adequate controls are in place to manage the inherent risks associated with workplace transport.”

The workplace transport initiative aims to improve safety in three key areas:

  • Safe site: Ensuring the work environment is conducive to safe vehicle operations. For instance, are pedestrians and vehicles segregated? If yes, how?
  • Safe vehicle: Ensuring regular maintenance and checks so that vehicles are in optimal condition. Are there measures in place for all-round visibility?
  • Safe driver: Ensuring drivers are well-trained, aware of safety protocols, and operate vehicles responsibly. Is there a program for refresher training in place?

During the campaign, HSENI Inspectors will assess the safety measures in place and offer valuable information and advice. In instances where significant risks are identified, enforcement actions will be initiated to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.

The HSENI has created a full checklist for employers to download and work through to ensure they meet the requirements concerning the workplace transport initiative.

Moy Park and Victor Foster Poultry Services Incident:

Incident Background

On 1 December 2017, a 31-year-old male employee of Victor Foster Poultry Services Limited was working in a commercial chicken house at a site in Moira, County Down. While working in near-dark conditions, he was struck by a forklift truck, resulting in multiple crush injuries to his lower body. The only sources of light in the chicken house were blue lights on the forklift and head torches worn by the workers, which they had provided themselves. Despite the dim lighting, Moy Park Limited supplied the workers with dark blue overalls.

Prosecution and Fines

The HSENI led a prosecution against both companies due to the incident. Both companies pleaded guilty to health and safety offenses. On 11 February 2022, Moy Park Limited was fined £125,000, and Victor Foster Poultry Services Limited was fined £18,000 by the Craigavon Crown Court.

Statements and Reactions

HSENI Inspector, Anne Cassidy, mentioned that the incident was avoidable and resulted from a failure to apply the principles of managing workplace transport. The risks associated with forklift trucks are well-known, and in this case, measures to prevent vehicle collisions with workers were not in place, especially given the increased risk due to the dark conditions. A spokesperson for Moy Park described the incident as “totally unacceptable” and assured that immediate steps were taken to prevent a recurrence. Victor Foster from Victor Foster Poultry Services acknowledged the incident and expressed sympathy for the injured worker.

Safety Concerns

The incident highlighted the importance of ensuring safe working conditions, especially when heavy machinery like forklifts is operating in the same area as pedestrian workers. The principles of managing workplace transport focus on ensuring a safe site, safe vehicle, and safe driver to protect workers from potential hazards.

Workplace Transport Safety Risk Assessment Services

In alignment with the HSENI workplace transport initiative, our health and safety consultants are available for on-site visits, assisting businesses in conducting thorough risk assessments in the workplace.

Examples of Transport-Related Risk Assessments:

  • Vehicle and Equipment-specific risk assessments (e.g., forklifts, delivery vans)
  • Loading and unloading procedures
  • Storage and movement of materials
  • Use of transport-related tools and equipment
  • Interactions with customers during transport activities
  • Lone driving or operating heavy machinery.

Office tasks related to transport management and coordination.

Every employer, irrespective of their business domain, has an obligation to create a safe and secure working environment. Prioritising health and safety, especially in the realm of workplace transport, not only safeguards employees but also reduces potential legal claims. This proactive approach is instrumental in fostering business growth and success.

To ensure that safety protocols are understood and adhered to, we recommend the use of sign-off sheets for risk assessments. These sheets are designed for employees to acknowledge their awareness of transport-related risks, confirm their understanding of the risk assessments pertinent to their roles, and verify that they have undergone training on potential hazards and control measures.

By signing these sheets, employees commit to operating safely, by the risk assessments relevant to their specific transport tasks.

Download the HSENI workplace transport initiative checklist to keep your business in line with current health and safety regulations.  

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