Transport and Vehicles

Last reviewed on 18/04/2013 11:31

This page gives advice on safe operation of transport and vehicles at work.

You will also find information on assessing risks associated with transport and vehicles, how to reduce them, details of legal responsibilities, and links to further information.

Quick links:

Transport and vehicles at work – the risks

A wide variety of transportation is used within the workplace, ranging from forklifts to cars, lorries, construction and agricultural vehicles.

Workplace transport accidents are often very serious. The opportunity for serious injury and substantial loss in financial terms due to damage to vehicles, plant and equipment should not be underestimated.

There is also the possibility of prosecution due to failure to comply with the legislation that relates to workplace transportation.


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Who is at risk from workplace transport?

Drivers and those coming into contact with vehicles while at work are at risk.

Employees, visitors and contractors in your workplace could be at risk if measures are not taken to separate pedestrians and vehicles.

Members of the public could also be at risk from work vehicles on the open road.


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Legal duties and responsibilities around vehicles and transport

As well as the moral duty of employers to protect employees and members of the public, General Health and Safety Legislation covers all employers and workplaces.

This includes protecting employees and the public from risks associated with workplace transport and vehicles.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

Duties under this Act include the requirement to ensure the safe use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances; and to provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision as required.

These duties are not restricted to the employer's workplace, but could be invoked in relation to a vehicle and the way in which it was driven on another work site, on a public road, or when in use on private property or a private roadway.

Products and cargoes in transport

Regulations may apply to any product or cargo being transported, e.g. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations or The Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Regulations 1996. → View our advice on Hazardous Substances

Road Traffic LegislationIf your employees drive for work purposes, you must consider road traffic legislation, including regulations relating to driver training and hours of work. → View our advice on Driving at Work

To view the full text of the above legislation online, please follow the links under Legislation.


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Assessing the risks from transport and vehicles

Measures must be taken to ensure people can move about the workplace safely.

To do this, you must first complete a risk assessment for all activities involving the potential use of, or contact with, vehicles in the workplace.

→ Download Risk Assessment Form

→ Download Risk Assessment Form – Worked Example

The Health and Safety Executive recommends a five-step approach:

  1. look at your workplace to determine where and how vehicles are used. Include forklifts, deliveries, cars for staff use, vehicles on the public road and construction vehicles, etc.
  2. decide who might be harmed and how. Where do vehicles come into contact with pedestrians? Are they at risk? Are some groups more at risk than others?
  3. consider the risks. Are there already measures in place to deal with the risks, such as restricted vehicle movement areas, speed bumps, speed limits, warning signs and driver training? What maintenance systems are in place? Are employees instructed to keep traffic routes clear?
  4. record your findings if you have five or more employees.
  5. regularly review the assessment. If any significant changes take place, make sure that precautions are still adequate to deal with the risks.

→ Read more on Risk Assessment


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Good practices around workplace transport and vehicles

General transport safety:

  • all vehicles must be safe, well maintained and fit for their intended purpose
  • persons using vehicles and transport must have the appropriate qualifications and training
  • avoid the need for reversing activities wherever possible
  • where this can not be avoided and a banksman is used, ensure employees use the standard hand signals for directing vehicles and for dangerous manoeuvres (see video of Banksman's Signals (external site))
  • provide high-visibility clothing for staff working around vehicles, highways, quarries, docks and other transport activities
  • ensure parked vehicles can not move, or be moved unintentionally
  • people must not be carried on vehicles unless they have a proper seat
  • provide warning systems wherever people could be crushed or trapped by vehicles.

Traffic and pedestrian routes:

  • traffic routes must not put persons working nearby at risk
  • clearly identify pedestrian routes around the worksite
  • keep vehicle and pedestrian routes free from obstruction
  • provide separate entry and exit points for vehicles and pedestrians where possible
  • pedestrian doors or gates leading onto vehicle routes should allow pedestrians to see approaching traffic from a safe place
  • provide suitable signage on all traffic routes (speed limits, hazard warnings, etc.)
  • ensure sufficient headroom above all vehicle routes, especially where forklifts or cranes are in operation.

Loading and towing:

  • loading bays must have at least one dedicated pedestrian exit point
  • ensure loading and towing operations can be carried out safely.


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Further information on transport and vehicles at work

Free resources from Healthy Working Lives Links below are to publications pages giving options to download these resources:

Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive Note – all links are to external pages on the HSE website giving options to download or order these resources:

Vehicles at Work (external site) This comprehensive site from the Health and Safety Executive gives advice on all aspects of the safe use of vehicles and transport in the workplace.


→ Download The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (PDF 560KB, external site)

→ View The Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Regulations 1996 (external site)


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