Updated: Oct 1, 2020
Now it's Autumn, the logistics sector tends to recruit the annual uplift in employees (typically through external agencies) and line up short-term vehicle hires ready for the build up in volumes for Black Friday and Christmas, the 'Peak' season.
That's a lot of new faces who are unfamiliar with your sites and vehicles that may not meet the company standard specifications.
2020 is different insofar as exponential growth in e-commerce throughout lockdown has seen the equivalent of extending 'the Peak' of Christmas throughout the year. Nevertheless, an element of workplace transport safety we can predict is the increasing hours of darkness.
Being struck by a moving vehicle is the main cause of fatality in the logistics sector. Being unable to see a pedestrian due to a lack of lighting clearly heightens risk and this is under the control of your business (even if indirectly, via a landlord). Extended hours of darkness over the next few months should feature, not just in risk assessments, but in the actions which flow from them.
My expertise within logistics, in particular, comes from several years as an Environmental Health Officer (with the same statutory powers as HSE Inspectors) and roles as Director of Health, Safety and Environment (or equivalent) within UK and global leaders in transport and logistics.
Imagine, for instance, that throughout yard areas, all pedestrians and vehicles are separated by clearly marked and signed traffic routes, employees follow their safety training and are wearing personal protective equipment (e.g. hi-vis jackets). How does this sound? The written Health and Safety Policy and risk assessments are in place?
One scenario I encountered was at a site where there were very limited discernible markings to identify traffic routes nor parking bays. It was a clockwise route around the site with a 10mph site limited that was not proactively monitored and frequently not followed. There were no fixed mirrors at blind bends. Along the fence at the rear of the premises, three of the four floodlights were out, together with two lights on the rear wall of the warehouse.
My visit was planned, to join the Shift Manager on the night shift to learn the site operation. I arrived shortly before 11pm. After meeting teams and exploring the flow of product within the building, I suggested a walk outside. The Shift Manager (accountable for the whole premises) was a little surprised. When we encountered the significant levels of darkness combined with vehicle movements, he advised that he only manages the shift inside. It was not possible to see other people in the vicinity (even wearing hi-vis jackets) with the available light.
How does your business compare?
1. Who is responsible for ensuring that all of your yard areas are well lit?
2. How proactive are your teams in identifying and reporting defects?
3. How confident are you that your risk assessments are "suitable and sufficient?"
4. How do you ensure that your written Health and Safety Policy is not just words?
5. What does all this say about the leadership and culture of your business?
Did you know you can download a FREE copy of "A guide to workplace transport safety" HS(G)136 from the Health and Safety Executive website? https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg136.htm It's a very useful guide which you can tailor to your business and highlight specific site-based differences.
"Every workplace must have suitable and sufficient lighting. All traffic routes, manoeuvring areas and yards should be adequately lit, particularly near junctions, buildings, plant and pedestrian routes. Where vehicles move around when it is dark, ensure the site is adequately lit, without being a nuisance to people in the local area."
I strongly recommend that you quickly establish the current state of your sites' lighting.
If you require assistance with workplace transport safety (together with strategy, policy, risk management and more), Get a quote today on 07855 757565 or jonathan@redlaces.,co.uk
Also, follow Red Laces on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for innovative content on business, risk, health and safety, sustainability and mental health awareness.