Recent prosecutions – depot manager killed by reversing HGV 

Two transport companies received a combined total of £2.2m in fines after a depot manager was killed by a reversing HGV.

The man was struck as the vehicle reversed out of a parking space in a transport yard. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the businesses had not adequately managed workplace transport risks, particularly the dangers of reversing vehicles and poor visibility. 

The regulator said the incident was ‘completely preventable’ by using measures to separate pedestrians and vehicles. Had the companies identified and managed the associated risks and implemented a safe system of work, the fatality would not have happened.

Reducing transport risks at your builders merchant  

The HSE tell us that 5,000 incidents involving workplace transport happen in the UK each year. In around 50 of these incidents, people lose their lives.  

Reversing vehicles present acute risks, as driver visibility can be impaired. To prevent accidents on your site, request a comprehensive risk assessment with a qualified H&S consultant. Your safety partner will identify vehicle hazards and recommend best practices to protect drivers and pedestrians. 

These might cover proactive solutions such as: 

  • Separating pedestrian and vehicle areas – Introduce physical barriers or designated walkways to lower the risk of pedestrians entering the path of reversing HGVs.
  • Setting speed limits and restricted zones – Establish and enforce speed limits within reversing zones and mark out areas where reversing is forbidden. Consider one-way systems to eliminate the need for reversing. 
  • Installing reversing alarms and cameras – Fit alarms and cameras to enhance driver visibility and give audible warnings during reversing manoeuvres. These purpose-made additions help detect obstacles or pedestrians in the vehicle's path.
  • Using banksmen/watchmen – Rely on a trained banksman/watchman to alert drivers of potential hazards during reversing. These specialist traffic marshals communicate with drivers through established signals and maintain constant visual contact with the rear of the vehicle. 
  • Displaying clear signage and markings – Identify walkways, traffic flow and reversing zones with easy-to-read signage and markings.
  • Providing staff training – Train all staff and drivers about workplace transport risks, including black spots, approved manoeuvring techniques, traffic management procedures and site safety rules. 

Speak to an Opus safety specialist  

For risk assessments and support to define an achievable workplace transport strategy for your builders merchant, talk to our experienced team. 

We’re waiting to help on or 0330 043 4015.