HM Insights

Workplace transport injuries: securing a 5-figure sum for injured employee

Health and Safety statistics show that 5000 accidents involving workplace transport occur annually with approximately 50 of those resulting in fatal injuries.

At Harper Macleod, we are regularly contacted by people who have been injured by workplace transport and are looking for legal advice. The main injuries reported arise from crush injuries to pedestrians, workers falling out of vehicles or as a result of poorly maintained vehicles.

Forklift Workplace Transport

Under UK law, employers have a legal duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees and to minimise any risks to their lowest level, wherever reasonably practicable.

What is classed as workplace transport?

Any activity involving vehicles used in the workplace.

A case in point - five-figure settlement

Harper Macleod successfully represented an employee of a Scottish local authority who was permanently injured following an accident involving a workplace vehicle.

We were instructed by the employee who was employed as a gardener. He was unloading machinery from a beaver tail lorry at the time of his accident. As he pulled the machinery’s start cord, the cord snapped and he fell from the vehicle. There were no barriers to catch him as he fell, from height. He subsequently fell to the ground below to his injury.

Harper Macleod intimated the claim to the council and cited health and safety legislation as well as failures to comply with duties under common law. Further, we were also able to refer to similar accidents that the council had failed to learn from.

The Health and Safety Executive were also involved in investigations and concluded that the injury could have been prevented had relevant safety measures, such as barriers, been implemented. As such, the council had failed to protect the health and safety of its employee.

Medical evidence confirmed that the employee had suffered permanent injuries and as such, could potentially be disadvantaged in the labour market should he apply for another job.

The pursuer’s position was accepted by the council’s representatives and a five-figure settlement was awarded to the employee to cover not only pain and suffering but also loss of earnings and care.

It should be noted that a civil claim can no longer succeed simply due to a breach of statutory regulations by the employer. Negligence must be proved.

What laws apply to employers & workplace transport?

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • The Provision and Use of Workplace Equipment Regulations
  • The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations
  • The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations
  • The Work at Height Regulations 2005
  • The Noise at Work Regulations
  • The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations
  • Common Law (The Law of Negligence)

How can employors ensure the health & safety of their employees?

Site Segregation

  • Keep vehicles and pedestrians segregated, at all times.
  • Create separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic routes
  • Clearly mark your traffic routes
  • Use one way systems
  • Implement vision panels

Visibility & Speed

  • Ensure that visibility is good enough to spot hazards
  • Install mirrors where sharp or blind bends cannot be avoided
  • Install suitable lighting
  • Implement traffic controls such as speed humps and speed limit signs
  • Where there are speed limits, ensure that they are enforced consistently across the site.

Safe Vehicles

  • Vehicles, used in the workplace, should be suitable for the purpose for which they are used
  • Vehicles should be maintained in good working order
  • Vehicles should be mechanically sound
  • Daily safety checks should be carried out at all times
  • Regular maintenance checks should be carried out
  • Safety alarms, if installed, should be in good working order
  • Risk assessments should be carried out and any risks managed by the implementation of safety features

Competent Drivers

  • Employers should ensure the competency of the driver to operate the vehicle
  • Appropriate information, instruction and training should be provided to the driver
  • Training records should be kept up to date
  • Always ask for fitness to drive documents

The dangers of forklift vehicles

Forklift trucks can be dangerous machines and are regularly involved in workplace injuries.

Injuries that arise from forklift accidents can have devastating consequences and it is important that health and safety rules are followed and any risks minimised as far as is reasonably practicable.

If forklift trucks are within your fleet of vehicles, you should be carrying out the following:

  • Pre-shift checks should be carried out at all times
  • Operator restraints should be used, where fitted
  • Ensure all paths are clear before moving off
  • Always travel with the forks lowered but clear of the ground
  • Watch out for pedestrians and any other obstructions
  • Ensure that only trained employees are operating the forklift trucks
  • Ensure that the vehicles are maintained regularly and inspection & maintenance logs are kept up to date

Get in touch

If you have suffered a workplace transport injury, or would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please contact a member or our team