Avoiding Run-aways: Learnings from the Safety Circle

Preventing vehicle roll-aways is still a priority for the transport industry.

In 2016 the HSE has said "HGV drivers are frequently putting lives at risk by not following basic safety procedures when coupling and uncoupling vehicles". 

 The Society of Operations Engineers (SOE) has issued updated guidance here: http://www.soe.org.uk/resources/technical-guides/ and the HSE has issued this: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/vehicles/waystostop.htm

But what more can the industry do to avoid damage, injury and death resulting from these accidents?

 Labyrinth covered this topic indepth with 22 attendees at the recent Safety Circle hosted at British Gypsum, Barrow on Soar in Leicestershire. British Gypsum (BG) is in the process of implementing a roll-away prevention tool called Brake Safe across its sub-contracted fleet. Brake Safe is a tool which works with other in-cab data to prevent run-aways. As well as a product demo, the group debated other ways operators can reduce the risks associated with coupling and un-coupling. Here Ruth lists the top things operators must do to avoid fatalities, according to the operators and manufacturers who debated the vital issue in depth:

Safe driver

Ensure drivers are competent

All drivers, whether they are employed, sub-contracted or agency staff, need to be competent and able to safely un-couple and couple a trailer.

Think about how you communicate this message to employees then think about how the same message is shared with non-employees. If you cannot avoid sub-contractor sub-contracting, how can you ensure that a driver on site is not going to cause injury of death on your site when they leave the handbrake off?

 Top tips: look at agency driver assessment and training, involve the agency, ensure that supply chains and buyers are briefed and that subbies are able to supply to your safety requirements. Consider using pictures to get the point across about coupling safety so that language  barriers are not an issue.

 Think about factors which can affect driver judgement

Many accidents and incidents occur because of human factors; drivers knew what to do but just didn’t do it. This can be because they were physically or mentally distracted, or because what was required of them had not been effectively communicated. Think about which drivers are likely to be naïve in the sense of not realising that certain physical parameters (for example, the presence of a slight slope) are going to have a major impact on the risk of a roll-away. This could affect new drivers and younger drivers.

 Top tip: Ban distractions including the use of mobiles and driver chatting to each other when they are coupling up. Make sure FLT staff are not unwittingly distracting them too. Use signage to warn drivers if there is a slope.

Safe site

Risk assess at different times of day and night and in different conditions

Factors such as slippery surfaces, lack of lighting, building work and congested areas can increase the risk of a run-away. Slight changes to a driver routine caused by moving to a different bay can result in a run-away if the slope is slightly different.

 Top tip: Ensure that all these different aspects are considered when risk assessments are done and included in the SSoWs.

 Safe Vehicle

Look at the roll-away prevention products on the market

Vision Techniques sponsored this event but that is not why we are discussing their product; it is unique in that it is not a warning system  but a device which stops the truck before a roll-away can occur.  Details of the product can be found here: http://www.vision-techniques.com/brakesafe/. One of the features of Brake Safe is that the driver doesn't have to press, look at or interact with the safety system at all when driving. However, if they were to forget to apply the brake and then leave the vehicle, the system would automatically take control - even with the ignition off.

Other products on the market include the Sentinel range of alarms which can be found here: http://www.pownall.co.uk/hand-brake-alarms and Maple Fleet Services’ SafeConnect product which can be found here: http://www.maplefleetservices.co.uk/safety-solutions/driver-assist-reversing-aids/safeconnect#ad-image-0

 Details of the Safety Circle, which operates under Chatham House Rule, can be found at www.labyrinthsafetycircle.co.uk or by email ruthwaring@labyrinthsolutions.co.uk for details of the next meeting.

 Vision Techniques’ write-up of the event can be found here: http://www.vision-techniques.com/blog/brakesafe-highlighted-labyrinth-safety-circle/

Ruth’s blog following the previous Safety Circle on this theme in 2013 can be found here: http://www.labyrinthsolutions.co.uk/index.php/about-us/news/21-operational-support/health-safety?start=6