Safety Notice is issued by HSE regarding the use of Wheeled Loading Shovels

In the last 4 years there have been 9 fatal vehicle / pedestrian collisions which involved wheeled loading shovels. Six of these were in the waste and recycling sector while the remainder involved wood chipping.

The incidents happened both whilst reversing and forward movement of the vehicles was occurring and large capacity buckets being fitted to some machines has also been cited as a contributing factor as they reduced the forward visibility further.

The safety notice has been issued to remind duty holders who use these machines that they must fully assess and actively manage the risk of vehicle / pedestrian collisions.

Some Background

Wheeled loading shovels are regarded as versatile machines used throughout the waste and recycling sector. However, the driver’s vison and ability to see pedestrians and to a lesser degree other vehicles, is being significantly affected by various blind spots caused by:

  • the bucket (and load);
  • the engine at the rear and;
  • the cab pillars.

Recently, it has  become “the norm” to fit large capacity buckets to move low density materials as it has allowed more material to be moved each time and still stay within the load limit of the machine.  These larger buckets are made available both from the equipment’s original manufacturer as well as in the aftermarket.

Whilst some manufacturers have noted the issue and added “visibility slots” or mesh at the top of the larger bucket, it is still likely that the forward visibility will be impacted as evidence gained during investigations showed that when the bucket is in the carrying position or full to the point that the load is obstructing them, these changes had little if no actual affect.

Manufacturers of the vehicles have been working on the use of camera systems to address limited forward visibility however, they are not proven or widely available and until they are the only control measure that will be effective is the strict segregation of vehicles and pedestrians and where this is not possible then you should stop using the larger capacity buckets or wheeled loaders, using different machinery instead and / or change the site management procedures.

What to do now?

The Provision of Use and Work Equipment Regulation 4 requires machinery to be suitable for the purpose it is used for, even if it has been adapted (i.e. been fitted with a larger bucket).

Review the workplace transport risk assessment covering the site and ensure the equipment will be safe to use in that specific working environment, taking into account what you are doing within it and then monitor the compliance with any new control measures put into force. Supervisors and or the use of CCTV could be a key factor to consider and if it is determined that the control measures are not working then action must be taken to rectify this.

If you walk past or away from a situation or person where non-compliance is occurring then YOU ARE CONDONING IT. You must ensure your rules / control measures are enforced.

To keep the site safe – Ensure that the segregation of pedestrians  and vehicles is vigorously controlled by looking at the layout of the site, the entry and exit routes for both vehicles and pedestrians, any barriers, one-way systems, and any other measures which will stop vehicles and pedestrians from occupying the same space at the same time. REMEMBER to review this assessment anytime that changes are made, especially to how waste is  managed / processed.

Also remember that other non-driving workers may benefit from information regarding the vehicles they may see / encounter on the site and giving them knowledge by sitting them in a cab so that they can see first-hand what the drivers can see and where blind spots can occur so they can use the site with that knowledge in mind can be very beneficial.

Keeping the vehicle safe – Risk assess the use of vehicles which will be on the site.  Do not assume that  they (wheeled shovel loaders specifically but not exclusively) come equipped with what YOU need to manage the safety of pedestrians. If visibility is being impacted, pedestrian safety is reduced and you should then consider whether any other aids may be useful to the driver and or what other control measures would protect pedestrians. Add mirrors, cameras, etc. where and as necessary.

Where a larger bucket has been fitted the risk assessment should be specifically demonstrating what extra is being done to ensure pedestrian safety, i.e. driver checks of the vehicle which include visibility, checking what is loaded and how to ensure that it, in itself, does not become a visibility issue, with the control measure being that if there is a safety concern the equipment should not be used until the concern has been satisfactorily addressed.

Also, if considering using interchangeable equipment (modifying the base equipment) such as with a larger bucket, make sure that the modified equipment still meets the essential requirements (EHSR’s)  of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations by consulting with the manufacturer of either the base machine or the interchangeable equipment.

Ensure the driver is safe – All drivers must be trained and competent to drive the vehicles they are being asked to use. This training should take into account any adaptations such as the fitting of larger buckets or the use of additional visibility aids, as well as how to adjust the seat, mirrors etc.  Other safety messages regarding the safe load height, the best carry or travel positions of attachments such as buckets etc. must also be covered.  A record of this training being provided, whilst not a legal requirement is best practice where proof of due diligence may be necessary for employers.

If this alert has raised questions or you need to discuss any other health & safety related issue do not hesitate to contact your health & safety consultant or the main office for advice / assistance.