Vehicles at work continue to be a significant cause of fatal and major injuries, with thousands of incidents involving transport in the workplace occurring every year. Consequently, it’s a topic requiring serious consideration, with a clear commitment from senior management critical to securing and maintaining a safe workplace.

Common problems that arise are associated with a failure to adequately assess the risks, poor communication and co-operation, inadequate arrangements for segregation of pedestrians and vehicles, poor surface conditions (roads, yards, car parks and designated pedestrian routes for example), insufficient information, instruction and training, inadequate arrangements for vehicle selection, inspection, maintenance and repair, and procedures for contractor/visitor management.

Any piece of mobile equipment in the workplace is classed as a ‘vehicle’, including cars, trucks and self-propelled machinery. So when looking at workplace transport, consider any vehicle used in a work setting.

Key actions to manage the risks from workplace transport

  • Carry out risk assessments for all workplace transport hazards and develop a documented policy and site traffic management plan that reflects the findings of those assessments. Review and update these on a regular basis and whenever there are changes in the workplace. Specifically consider the following three key areas:
    • Safe site
    • Safe driver
    • Safe vehicle
  • Develop routes that minimise movement and plan to avoid sharp turns, blind bends and reversing. Where possible, establish a one-way system.
  • Factor in maximum heights and widths of vehicles likely to come onto your site so routes are wide and high enough, and any issues caused by overhead cables, bridges, low buildings (roofs / ceilings) and other potential obstructions can be managed.
  • Provide designated turning areas with a turning circle (roundabout), where reversing can’t be prevented so there’s no need for it, and/or mirrors, trained signallers and other measures that can assist drivers.
  • Ensure routes have adequate lighting and hazards that could affect visibility are addressed. Provide high visibility clothing (where needed) for both drivers and pedestrians.
  • Put speed limits in force and use clear signs and road markings (in addition to training) along routes to make drivers aware of hazards and the direction they should be going in.
  • Ensure adequate procedures for maintenance of the workplace are established including surfaces (roads, car parks, yards, pedestrian routes etc.), lighting and signage.
  • Make sure people and vehicles are kept apart as much as possible, using barriers, signs and floor markings for segregation. Provide safe and suitable pedestrian crossing places.
  • Keep designated pedestrian routes and vehicle routes clear, to avoid the need for drivers or pedestrians to take unplanned diversions.
  • Set up different entrance and exit points for pedestrians and vehicles. Try to minimise the distance between the entrance, delivery and parking areas, and exit.
  • Provide designated and appropriately segregated and supervised areas for loading and unloading of vehicles.
  • Establish a safe route allowing visiting drivers to sign in and report for instructions.
  • Install physical barriers to protect people and property against vehicle impact, particularly storage racking and areas where hazardous substances are kept.
  • Protect drivers against falling objects, collisions and overturning with seat restraints, roll-over protective structure (ROPS), falling object protective structure (FOPS) and canopies.
  • Think about how human behaviour might affect your plan, principally where pedestrians are involved. People are more likely to stray from walkways if they can ‘cut across’ to get somewhere quicker, and they will step around obstructions, potentially placing themselves in danger’s path.
  • Make pedestrian routes as direct as possible and put in place robust barriers and warning signs where this is difficult.
  • Ensure pedestrians take just as much responsibility for safety around traffic and there are disciplinary procedures, just as there would be for drivers, for those on foot who break the rules or otherwise endanger people or themselves.
  • Enable and encourage anyone on or around the site to raise concerns they might have about how workplace transport is being managed.
  • Challenge and investigate unsafe behaviours to find the underlying reasons for them and develop actions for prevention.
  • Remember to consider how transport in and around the workplace might impact control measures for health and safety, fire and security (for example, make sure escape routes will not be blocked at any point).
  • Include the premises traffic management rules in site induction, general induction and refresher training sessions.
    • All people working on the site, including visitors, contractors, temporary and agency workers, need to be aware of traffic management arrangements and site rules.
    • Make sure anyone using machinery or tools associated with workplace transport, such as lifting equipment, has received appropriate information, instruction and training and is competent to do so.
  • Make sure vehicles and moving plant are subject to a planned and communicated maintenance regime and are inspected on a regular basis, with daily pre-use checklists provided and a method for faults and defects to be reported and actioned.
  • Consider setting up access control systems to help manage vehicle movements and prevent too many vehicles or unauthorised vehicles getting on site.
  • Restrict delivery times, if possible, so other work can be managed appropriately around those periods.
  • Arrange to formally review, investigate and learn from any workplace transport related accidents and/or near-misses; associated risk assessments, controls, policies and procedures and training being reviewed where identified as necessary. 

Templates for safe route planning and vehicle management

Risk assessments

Example form

Forklift truck

Pre-use checks

Guards and safety devices

Inspection form

Additional resources

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to some common queries about health and safety issues and related legislation.