On-site driver safety: Are you getting the basics right?

The builders merchant environment presents a range of risks for drivers and pedestrians – from forklift truck collisions to stock falling from vehicles. While most on-the-job transport incidents are entirely preventable, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show they account for 20% of all fatal workplace accidents in the UK. What’s more, RIDDOR statistics highlight more than 2,150 transport-related injuries per year since 1999. 

Every branch has unique vehicle safety challenges, but all builders merchants can take basic steps to prevent on-site accidents. This article outlines your top transport priorities to protect drivers, staff, and customers. 

Know your traffic flow  

Understanding how vehicles move around your site is essential to assessing transport-related risks. Every branch is different, so you’ll need to map out transport patterns and potential safety issues for each location. 

Start by tracking the movement of forklifts, lorries, cars, and pedestrians across your site. Once you’ve established general patterns, conduct a formal risk assessment to map out specific hazards, including points of limited visibility, space constraints, and accident blackspots. 

Create segregated spaces for vehicles and pedestrians 

Vehicles and pedestrians shouldn’t occupy the same space, so look for solutions that separate forklift trucks, lorries, and cars from staff and customers. Use guardrails, fencing, and other physical barriers to demarcate pedestrian walkways. Meanwhile, identify vehicle routes and designated loading and unloading areas with clear signage, painted road markings, and strict speed limits.   

Establish purpose-built loading zones 

Almost one-quarter of all transport-related workplace deaths are related to reversing vehicles. One-way systems, dedicated loading and unloading zones, and safe spaces for drivers can reduce the risks. 

Control traffic flow with directional signage, road markings, and entry and exit signs. Tactically positioned barriers – such as planters, bollards, and raised curbs – can also guide vehicles to designated loading areas, which provide controlled environments for deliveries, loading, and unloading. 

Use technology to highlight hazards 

At a busy builders merchants, staff can become desensitised to reversing vehicle alarms. Supplementing sound-based systems with visual alerts can offer an added layer of protection.

Blue spot technology projects a bright blue LED light in the path of a moving forklift to warn pedestrians and other vehicles of nearby traffic. Halo technology surrounds the lift truck with a bright, coloured box. Make sure your technology works within the warehouse as well as the yard.

Stack materials to prevent blind spots 

Poorly loaded racking systems not only increase crushing risks, but also create dangerous blind spots for drivers and pedestrians. As part of your initial risk assessment, ensure stock doesn’t block traffic flow or views of approaching vehicles. Then build regular checks into your routine floor walks. 

To boost visibility for staff on foot and behind the wheel, consider installing ceiling or wall-mounted safety mirrors. 

Enforce fundamental site rules   

Improving workplace transport standards means committing to a few back-to-basics safety measures. To stay sharp and alert, team members should never drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medicine that can cause drowsiness. 

Finally, train your workers to always wear a seatbelt and follow the unique compliance requirements for different vehicle types – from forklift trucks to lorry loaders with swing-up stabilisers

Partner with the Opus Safety team 

To boost vehicle safety and staff knowledge across your branches, get support from our experienced consultants. We’ve worked extensively across the sector to reduce workplace transport risks and consistently improve compliance.  

Talk to the Opus team on 0330 043 4015 or email