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HSA launches new workplace vehicle safety campaign

Health & Safety Authority

Health & Safety Authority urges workers not to go on autopilot when operating vehicles

IRELAND’s Health and Safety Authority (HAS) has launched a new awareness-raising campaign aimed at flagging the dangers of going on ‘autopilot’ when operating workplace vehicles. The new campaign will run across radio, press and digital formats, and it is hoped it will increase awareness and understanding of the risks of operating workplace vehicles.

Last year 28 of the 55 deaths reported to the HSA involved vehicles. Alarmingly, the involvement of vehicles in deaths at work increased in 2014 for the first time in three years to 54% of the total figures. This is up 13% from the previous five-year average for 2009–2013 of 41%.

Deirdre Sinnott, senior inspector with the Authority, said: ‘The purpose of this campaign is to flag the dangers of switching off mentally or going on autopilot when operating workplace vehicles such as fork-lift trucks. These vehicles are often driven in confined areas with co-workers in the immediate vicinity. It’s vital for vehicle operators to keep their focus and stay alert.’

According to the HAS, the dangers associated with the use of fork-lift trucks and other vehicles in the workplace are often underestimated. Employees working with or around them often become complacent because of their constant use.

However, incidents involving workplace vehicles are usually very serious and often fatal. These vehicles are extremely heavy, even when unloaded, and there is very little protection for pedestrians. Crush and foot injuries tend to be common injuries suffered by pedestrians and, because of the level of damage done, can lead to amputations.

‘The dangers can be minimized through some simple steps,’ said Deirdre Sinnott. ‘Keep pedestrians away from vehicle activities; take extra care when reversing vehicles; keep speeds to a minimum; and make sure reversing alarms are working to warn colleagues of the dangers of moving vehicles.’

She added: ‘Loading and unloading is also a key accident trigger. Always stay alert for co-workers or other pedestrians who might wander into the path of your moving vehicle.’

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