The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has released a new report relating to risks caused by multi-site deliveries.
The road haulage and warehousing industry poses some of the highest risks with regards to injuries and workplace incidents. Multi-site deliveries do not pose any unique risks to workers, but they do, however, increase the frequency of exposure to hazards associated with high injury tasks, such as manual handling and working at heights. The HSE devised this report in order to identify whether there were any specific safety issues relating to multi-site deliveries and to see just how wide the impact of these issues were within the UK’s road haulage industry.
A multi-site load that was secured prior to delivery may become unstable or is likely to move once the first delivery has been made. This is a factor that is not always taken into consideration by operators when it comes to managing health and safety risks associated with the transportation of goods.
The HSE found that the securing of multi-site delivery loads was generally poor throughout these industries, but this is not unusual within the haulage industry. A significant variation in the process and standard of securing goods within a box-sided, flatbed and curtain-sided vehicles was found. Goods within a box-sided vehicle were often found to be secured well, whilst those within a flatbed or curtain-sided vehicle were either inadequately secured, or not secured at all.
The report showed there is some confusion and lack of awareness amongst operators and consignors as to who is responsible for the load when the vehicle is reloaded or the load is re-arranged at a delivery site. The responsibility lies with three key personnel: the consignor, operator and driver. The HSE identified that the confusion often resulted in the disregard of any responsibility, following the incorrect assumption that the driver alone is solely responsible for the safety of the load.
All duty holders, i.e. the consignor, operator and driver, are legally obliged to access the risks of their work activities and take the necessary steps to reduce the risks which could cause harm to themselves or other personnel within the workplace. The delivery and collection of goods often results in drivers visiting third party sites, which can cause an overlap in responsibility between the employer and the recipient of the goods who is therefore in charge of the delivery site. This overlap means proper communication between both parties is crucial to ensure loading and unloading is carried out safely.
The HSE’s conclusion was that the main issues associated with multi-site deliveries came as a result of poor communication and cooperation between the three key personnel. While these issues are not exclusive to multi-site deliveries, the repercussions of inadequate risk assessments and load planning are magnified as a result of an increased exposure to hazards. The widespread use of risks assessments, loading planning, colleague cooperation and communication can collectively reduce the risks to all personnel during multi-site deliveries.