Recent prosecutions – businesses fined after driver fractures neck

Two companies received five-figure fines for safety offences that led to an HGV driver fracturing one of his neck vertebrae.

The delivery driver was struck by falling pallets as a forklift operator unloaded them from an HGV trailer.  

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that both companies fell short on their obligations to provide a safe system of work. There was a lack of simple control measures to ensure visiting delivery drivers wait in a secure location while HGV trailers are unloaded by forklift trucks (FLTs).

The driver’s employer was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £4,806.60 in costs. Meanwhile, the owner of the site where the injury occurred was hit with a £50,000 fine, plus £4,654.90 in costs.

The HSE inspector noted that the accident was entirely preventable: ‘All such incidents can result in serious personal injury and the risks involved must be managed by all those who have legal duties for the safety of delivery drivers, both their employer and the sites they deliver to.

‘This incident could so easily have been avoided by implementing the simple control measure of keeping the delivery driver out of the area where the FLT was operating to maintain a safe system of work.’

Transport best practice for your builders merchant  

HSE stats reveal 5,000 incidents involving transport in the workplace every year. About 50 of these are fatal.  

For builders merchants, one of the most common causes of incidents is the loading and unloading of HGVs. The activity presents a range of risks, including workers being struck by unsecured objects, hit by forklift trucks and falling from vehicles.  

Every site is unique, so it’s essential to pinpoint your branch’s hazards with a comprehensive risk assessment. Your consultant will highlight accident blackspots and make recommendations for safer traffic flow, delivery processes, onsite parking and driver management.  

These might cover best practice solutions, including:

  • Creating a safe system of work for deliveries, providing guidance for before, during and after each drop. This should include detailed procedures for visiting drivers, such as hi-vis requirements, rules around mobile phone use, policies on reversing vehicles and whether banksmen are needed.
  • Designating and clearly marking parking, loading and pedestrian areas.
  • Marking out a safe space for delivery drivers to wait while vehicles are unloaded. This should ideally include easy access to toilets and refreshment facilities and a secure area to observe.
  • Implementing a system for directing traffic flow, such as traffic cones or signs, to segregate pedestrians and prevent congestion and collisions.
  • Providing visible and prominent signage to direct drivers to the correct area.
  • Displaying a site plan outlining parking and waiting zones, reception and the approved route to loading and unloading areas.
  • Training employees on traffic management procedures and ensuring they follow them.
  • Implementing and enforcing a strict speed limit within your branch.
  • Scheduling deliveries during off-peak hours, if possible.
  • Ensuring delivery areas are well-lit and maintained, especially during evening hours and poor weather conditions.
  • Establishing the type and size of vehicle your site can safely handle.
  • Communicating whether visiting HGVs must have CCTV or reversing aids fitted.
  • Confirming who will unload the goods and operate forklift trucks.
  • Agreeing in advance if the delivery driver is expected to unload their own vehicle. In this case, the FLT must be well maintained and the driver should be trained to drive FLTs in line with the Approved Code of Practice.

Speak to an Opus expert

For risk assessments and support to define the right safety strategy for your builders merchant, talk to our experienced team.

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