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Vehicles for work

What you need to know as an employer to make sure that vehicles and drivers are safe at all times

Vehicles are used for a wide range of tasks at work, and as an employer, you need to make sure that vehicles driven in connection with work and the drivers using these vehicles are safe at all times.  Employees also have a responsibility to act within the law and not endanger themselves or other people by their actions, this includes when driving any vehicle as part of their work.  There are different ways to describe vehicles used at work:

Workplace transport – vehicles used on work sites, for example

  • forklift trucks
  • autonomous vehicles
  • construction and agricultural vehicles (that don't travel on the public road)
  • car, vans and lorries within a workplace e.g. in a delivery area or car park.

Vehicles driven for work on the public road, for example

  • cars
  • vans
  • lorries
  • motorcycles
  • construction and agricultural vehicles (that do travel on public roads).

What are the common hazards?

There are a number of hazards that are common to most work related driving situations, such as

  •  having new or inexperienced drivers, driving work vehicles of any kind
  •  using the wrong vehicle, or "making do" with a vehicle that isn't suitable for the job
  •  using a vehicle that isn't properly maintained, MOT'ed or insured
  •  allowing members of staff to use a vehicle without assessing their abilities and providing suitable training
  •  the health of the driver having an impact on their ability to drive or do the job safely
  •  the driving activity and other elements of the job having an adverse effect on the health of the driver
  • not having clear policies and procedures covering all work vehicles, meaning staff may not be clear on their roles and responsibilities when driving
  • distraction
  • inappropriate speed
  • driver fatigue.
  1. Workplace transport on-site
  2. Vehicles driven on public roads

1. Workplace transport on-site

Workplace transport is a term used to describe the use of vehicles for tasks that are not on the public road, for example

  • forklift truck operations
  • lorry and truck loading and unloading operations
  • vehicles used to move and deliver materials within a factory
  • car parks
  • maintenance operations (tractors, cherry pickers etc)
  • agricultural and construction plant and machinery
  • crane work.
There are also a number of hazards associated with onsite work that employers will need to manage, these include
  • pedestrians (members of the public, visitors, other workers) who cross vehicle routes, inside premises, on site and in public areas
  • entry and exit point to buildings, including fire exit routes, should not lead directly onto a traffic route
  • working at height when sheeting, or securing a load
  • maintaining a vehicle
  • risks posed by operating vehicles near water or excavations or on slopes
  • risks of collision with building structures or electric cables, from tipping or using high reach equipment
  • risk created by charging and refuelling vehicles
  • uneven surfaces or tight spaces for vehicle manoeuvring
  • insecure loads
  • driver experience and their training on the vehicle in question.

Reducing the risks from driving at work

The Health and Safety Executives web pages on workplace transport provide examples of how to ensure your vehicle operations are safe and can be found at Workplace transport (external site). Steps to ensure safe site operations can include

  • assessing and providing suitable training and refresher training for your drivers
  • ensuring all drivers (visitors and your workers) follow your site safety rules at all times
  • pedestrian routes should be separated, or physically protected, from vehicle routes
  • ensuring that you chose the correct vehicle for the job being carried out
  • maintaining your vehicles in line with manufacturer's instruction and legal requirements for particular equipment
  • using method statements and a permit to work system for high risk and one off work e.g. at height, lifting activities, with cranes
  • taking time to plan vehicle routes on your sites and consider space required for manoeuvring safely.