Working Safely Together: Site Segregation and Operator Awareness

Equipment operators are commonly required to complete the same or similar tasks continuously. Repetition of tasks like this can create complacency which often increases the risks of accidents unless the relevant safety processes are in place. Certora believe that it is vital for organisations to manage risk appropriately by what may happen, rather than reacting to something that has happened.

Segregating equipment and pedestrians is the preferable, safest solution to eliminate risk, however this isn’t always practical within mobile plant operations. Safety measures must therefore be put in place in order to minimise the risk as much as possible in order for mobile plant equipment to work cohesively alongside pedestrians on the site safely and efficiently.

Ensuring that the following points have been considered will provide a good start:

  • Risk assessments
  • Procedures and processes (Safe Systems of Work)
  • Pedestrian and equipment segregation, where practicable
  • Operator training
  • Manager/supervisor training
  • Staff engagement
  • Support from the top
  • Don’t make it a ‘one off’ project!

The elements offer a good platform to work upon, however it is always essential to apply these to the specific environment that you are operating in. Certora Training Solutions offer 10 practical tips for reducing the risk:

  1. Planning – Is it possible to re-route or re-schedule journeys? Think about whether these can move so that they are not coinciding with operations. Activities could be carried out during maintenance times or breaks, or alternatively product could be brought to a safe area. A Banksman/Marshall escort may help where the alternative options are not possible.
  2. Zonal Marking – In order to ensure safety on site, pedestrians and mobile plant should be separated as much as possible. Pedestrian routes should be clearly marked and crossings should be easily definable. Where possible ‘pedestrian only’ or ‘authorised personnel’ areas should be designated.
  3. Speed/directional restrictions – Ensuring you have speed limits on site can significantly reduce the risk of collisions. Implementing a one-way system could also help facilitate the flow of traffic.
  4. Restricted space – Often many different types of equipment operate within a close vicinity, in these cases it is crucial for good all round visibility. Staff should be aware of the correct observational techniques and apply these, for assistance, mirrors/cameras/radar/detection can be fitted in the vehicle. If these are used they should be regularly checked to ensure they are in good working condition.
  5. Visibility – Mobile plant operators and pedestrians should be strongly encouraged to wear the relevant PPE and operate with caution. In quarries where small vehicles such as Land Rovers are used visibility aids such as flags, livery or beacons alongside the relevant safety procedures will ensure these are visible from height in machine cabs. If attachments or visual aids are being used extra care should be taken when fitting these to ensure they’re not obstructing/ blocking the operator’s view. Due to the large size and shapes attachments such as double block grabs or personnel cages these can significantly reduce visibility.
  6. Lighting – Poor lighting can lead to pedestrians not being easily visible to operators and others working alongside them. Lighting issues occur most commonly in enclosed spaces such as waste transfer stations. These issues are easily rectifiable by fitting additional lights to equipment and in any areas where pedestrians operate.
  7. Traffic routes/site layout – In environments which serve as storage areas as well as transportation areas such as block plant yards, the sock often deciphers the site roadways. The site’s dynamics can change rapidly due to the demand of customers therefore it is important that traffic routes are managed well and communicated effectively to all personnel operating in the vicinity.
  8. Information for visitors – All visitors including contractors, maintenance personnel (particularly those who aren’t used to the working environment) should be made aware of safe routes around site and the safety procedures in place for working within a close range of mobile plant.
  9. Deliveries and collections – It is within best practice to check that drivers have the latest details on the designated roadways and pick up points on site, as these are often subject to change. Drivers should only leave their cabs when it is safe to do so, this should be communicated through appropriate signage and/or verbally.
  10. Guidance for foreign employees – To a considerable amount of mobile plant operators English is their second language, care should be taken to ensure they are aware of the risks on site and understand the safety procedure in place to minimise these. This could be considered in their training and when introducing new signage or new processes.

Businesses can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and meet their safety responsibilities whilst maintaining their productivity and reputation if they have the relevant safety procedures and processes in place. For further guidance on site segregation and awareness, please call Certora on 01246 386900.

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