HSE warns sector after wheeled shovel deaths

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has today issued a safety notice on the use of wheeled shovels, widely used in the waste sector, following nine pedestrian deaths in four years.

HSE
In the HSE wheeled loader alert, poor driver visibility was identified as a key factor in vehicle/pedestrian collision (picture: Shutterstock)

The safety regulator said six of the nine deaths occurred in the waste and recycling sector, with the remainder involved in moving wood chip.

Wheeled shovels are used widely by waste management companies to move large quantities of material.

The HSE has identified issues of poor visibility caused by the bucket and load, the engine at the rear and the cab pillars, significantly reducing the drivers’ ability to see pedestrians and, to a lesser extent, other vehicles.

“The use of larger capacity buckets, which has become common practice where low-density material is being moved, makes forward visibility significantly worse,” the regulator explained.

Poorly planned use of wheeled loading shovels can have fatal consequences

– Tim Small, head of HSE’s waste and recycling team

‘Fatal consequences’

Head of HSE’s waste and recycling team, HM Principal Inspector of Health and Safety, Tim Small, commented: “Poorly planned use of wheeled loading shovels can have fatal consequences.

“This safety notice reminds duty holders who use these machines of the need to fully assess and actively manage the risk of vehicle-pedestrian collisions. Currently, the only effective control measure is strict segregation of vehicles and pedestrians. If you cannot ensure that segregation, you should not use larger capacity buckets or wheeled loaders, but employ alternative work methods such as using different machinery and/or site management arrangements.

“Before using wheeled loaders – or making changes to them – you should review your workplace transport risk assessments to ensure they will be safe to use in your environment and in the way you intend to use them. By implementing appropriate risk controls, needless pedestrian deaths could be avoided.”

Regulation

The HSE said Regulation 4 of The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) requires machinery to be suitable for the purpose for which it is used.

“This also applies if the equipment is adapted, for example by fitting a larger bucket,” the regulator warned.

The statement said manufacturers and other specialist suppliers had attempted to address the problem by adding ‘visibility slots’ or mesh at the top of buckets, but evidence from investigations suggests “these are ineffective when the bucket is in the carry position or obscured by the load”.

HSE
The HSE warned that operators must review safety procedures if any modifications are made to wheeled loaders (picture: Shutterstock)

Camera systems have been under development for some time, but their effectiveness remains unproven and are not widely available, the regulator added.

Notice

The notice today was issued to “remind dutyholders who use these machines of the need to fully assess and actively manage the risk of vehicle-pedestrian collisions”.

It said before using wheeled loaders or making changes to them, operators “should review your workplace transport risk assessments to ensure they will be safe to use in your environment and in the way that you intend to use them”.

The notice added that “rigorous segregation between pedestrians and vehicles” should be in place, with the HSE warning: “You should review the site layout, barriers, one-way systems, and other measures to ensure they give the best segregation of vehicles and pedestrians”.

Operators were also warned not assume wheeled loaders come supplied with the most appropriate or comprehensive mirrors etc for specific needs, which is particularly important with second-hand machines.

The HSE also warned that companies must monitor compliance with site rules, where CCTV and supervisors have a key role.

“If control measures (eg segregated areas or pedestrian routes) are not effective or enforced, take action to rectify this. Enforce the rules – you get the behaviour you walk past,” the HSE added.

Useful link
Wheeled loading shovels in waste and recycling

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