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VEHICLES IN THE WORKPLACE - A LOCAL AUTHORITY ENFORCEMENT TARGET

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Businesses need to make transport safety in the workplace a higher priority, says the Chartered Institute of Enviro...
Businesses need to make transport safety in the workplace a higher priority, says the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) after a record fine was imposed on a supermarket retailer for a vehicle accident.

The CIEH, the professional body for those who enforce health & safety in retail outlets, is urging businesses to review their vehicle safety procedures. It says businesses should focus on segregating vehicles and people, and should eliminate 'vehicle reversing' in areas where employees are working or where the public are likely to visit.

The CIEH made its call after Basingstoke & Deane BC successfully prosecuted Sainsbury's Supermarkets when a warehouse worker was crushed to death by a run-away forklift truck. Winchester crown court awarded a record fine of£425,000 against the company. The court described the situation at the warehouse as 'dating back to the dark ages of work safety'. Evidence was presented that a vital safety switch had been disconnected on more than half the forklift trucks in the warehouse.

The CIEH welcomed the record level of fine and urged the courts to follow the precedent.

Mike Garton, secretary to the CIEH health & safety committee, said: 'This level of fine is extremely welcome, it sends out a stern message that lapses in vehicle safety will not be tolerated.

'Environmental health officers, when visiting premises in the retail and distributive sector, will take a hard look at awareness of vehicle safety. Businesses should be aware of the enforcement campaign, Move in Safety, Save a Life, where local authorities will consider taking formal action for breaches of transport safety. Businesses should ensure, as far as possible, the segregation of workers and vehicles, and the elimination of all reversing movements.'

Mr Garton also pointed out that recent figures reveal that a quarter of transport fatalities are caused by reversing vehicles.

Notes

- Move in Safety, Save a Life, the joint Health & Safety Executive and local authority initiative, was started in 1995.

- There were 219 fatalities to employees arising from collisions with moving vehicles between 1991 and 1996. There were 2,804 non-fatal major accidents to employees from vehicle collisions in the workplace. Source: Health & Safety Commission Health & Safety Statistics 1996

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