One sector that seems to have been in the health and safety news a lot recently is Transportation and Storage (SIC 2007 code H). The HSE report against this sector as a whole despite the somewhat diverse nature of companies that sit beneath the main headings of:
- 49 – Land transport and transport via
- 50 – Water transport
- 51 – Air transport
- 52 – Warehousing and support activities for transportation
- 53 – Postal and courier activities
Transportation & Storage accounts for almost 5% of all UK workers and, against all other sectors, ranks sixth in terms of worker fatality rates, but second in non-fatal injury rates over the past four years.
These stats are for workers only. Unfortunately, the Transportation & Storage sector sees a high incidence of members of public coming into contact with the workplace and, in addition to the 15 worker fatalities in 2017/18 (16 in 2018/19), there were 51 members of the public killed in 2017/18 (all struck by a moving vehicle) which accounts for more than half of all workplace fatal injuries to members of the public. Note that since 2013/14, HSE reporting of workplace fatality injuries to members of the public no longer includes railway related deaths (including suicides and trespass).
In recent weeks there have been several high profile prosecutions of companies in this sector including:
- the death of a bus passenger at Bedford Bus Station due to “inadequate control measures in place to segregate vehicles and pedestrians at the site.”
- the death of a worker crushed by a tyre collapse at a warehouse where the owner “pleaded guilty to failure to ensure the health and safety of its employees and failure to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.”
- the serious injury to a traffic marshall struck by a lorry reversing from a docked vessel at Birkenhead port terminal. The HSE said, “the risks to pedestrians from moving vehicles is an obvious one which should have been identified and controlled.”
Almost half of worker fatalities in Transportation & Storage are due to being struck by a moving vehicle with falls from height the next most prominent cause accounting for almost one third of all fatalities. So, what can be done?
There does seem to be an issue with risk assessments and compliance generally. There is a legal requirement to perform a risk assessment and a method statement [to describe exactly how a job is going to be carried out] would further mitigate risk. e-permits makes it easy for RAMS to be managed as part of the permit-to-work process, ensuring compliance and an audit trail for the employer.
Another opportunity for improvement is to implement/improve/mandate a site induction process for visiting drivers. e-permits enables site inductions to be undertaken electronically and can include video/Q&A to ensure that visiting drivers have completed induction before arriving on-site and are, therefore, approved to work. As changes to the site require updated site induction information, so the system can easily require drivers to retake the site induction course at login.
Improved site signage, PPE, and communication systems will all further contribute to improved safety in this sector and, in the case of signage, could also contribute to better safety for members of the public. Doubtless there are many other initiatives outside of those mentioned that will contribute to improved safety performance in Transportation & Storage.
Is there room for complacency? After all, the sector is only #6 in terms of worker fatality rates, albeit being #2 in worker non-fatal injury rates. Let’s hope not because, if you add in the member of public fatalities, Transportation & Storage accounts for by far the most fatalities with 66 in 2017/18, exactly double that of the next worst performing sector (Agriculture, forestry and fishing). And, reconfirming, these figures now exclude deaths on the railways.