Saving lives in your workplace – the importance of enforcing site rules 

Site safety rules are put in place to prevent accidents and save lives – but they mean nothing if they’re not correctly carried out or consistently enforced. 

As an employer, following through on your health and safety programme is critical to your duty of care. Failing to enforce site rules places your people at risk of harm and leaves your business vulnerable to financial penalties, civil action and reputational damage. 

The solution is to develop a culture of safety, where staff recognise and act on workplace risks. In this article, we highlight three commonly ignored site rules, what it takes to enforce them – and how to establish ‘safety first’ attitudes across your branches. 

Rule 1 – Wearing seat belts on forklift trucks 

According to the UK Material Handling Association, more than 1,300 forklift truck accidents happen every year in the UK. Overturned vehicles are the primary cause of death, with operators often falling from the truck and being crushed by the roll cage. In most cases, seat belt use could have made a lifesaving difference.  

The rising trend in forklift-related accidents means courts are more likely to prosecute management who fail to make seat belt use mandatory. A commitment to seat belt safety has never been more essential. 

Rule 2 – Using hard hats and restraining devices 

Your staff need to wear hard hats and restraining devices when using cranes or working on the back of lorries. Falls from height and being struck by falling objects account for two of the top three causes of workplace fatalities in the UK. 

A properly fitted hard hat with an engaged restraining device provides vital head protection, reducing the risk of serious injury. 

Rule 3 – Wearing hi-vis workwear 

Your workers aren’t safe if they aren’t seen. Hi-vis clothing allows staff to be easily spotted by vehicle and forklift operators, helping drivers take steps to avoid collisions. It’s particularly crucial in your yard and loading areas, where pedestrians and vehicles share the same space. 

As an employer, you’re obligated to train your team on why hi-vis clothing is needed and when it should be worn. You’re also responsible for ensuring staff adhere to those guidelines. 

How to enforce site rules 

Setting site rules sends a clear message that you prioritise employee safety. However, properly protecting your workers requires consistency at all levels of your operation – including managers who model a commitment to compliance. 

Successful enforcement ensures your team understands workplace risks and motivates them to adopt a safety-focused mindset. Here’s our recommended four-step approach: 

  • Educate your team – Train employees on the risks of ignoring site rules, using real-life examples of incidents and indictments. For example, illustrate the hazards of forklift truck use with case studies of overturned lift trucks, collisions with pallets and other vehicles, or accidents involving overloaded forklifts.
  • Conduct regular checks – Carry out daily checks when introducing new rules, reminding employees of updated procedures and recognising those who follow them. Consider incentivising staff with team and individual rewards. Changing attitudes is a gradual process, so support workers through the adoption phase, allowing a fair but firm grace period before taking any disciplinary action.
  • Reinforce messages with toolbox talks – Drive home new protocols with regular toolbox talks: short pre- or post-shift huddles designed to promote awareness and tackle specific safety concerns. Equip managers with clear, impactful messaging on the importance of following site rules – and the risks of inconsistency. 
  • Lead by example – Demonstrate the right approach by never letting standards slip at management level. Wear your seat belt. Use the correct PPE. Follow the required protocols. Whatever the job, uphold your site rules and set the gold standard for safety across your business. 

Get support from the Opus experts

Our experienced safety consultants can help you set site rules in line with current regulations and provide the tools and training to ensure your team carry them through.

Talk to us about risk assessments, staff e-learning options and toolbox talk templates. 

We’re here to help on and 0330 043 4015. 

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