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Vehicles in the workplace are the biggest killer in Ireland

by Eleonora Malacarne on Oct 3, 2019 8:02:00 AM

Vehicles in the workplace are the biggest killer in Ireland

According to figures recently released by the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland (HSA), vehicles are the leading cause of death in Irish workplaces.

The source of the aforementioned figures is the Authority’s 2018 Annual Report, showing that there were 39 work-related fatalities reported to the HSA in 2018, compared to 48 in 2017, a decline of 19%. But the single biggest danger last year came from vehicles in the workplace, with 17 lives lost across all industries last year.

The farming sector suffered 15 work-related deaths in 2018, compared to 25 in 2017, a decline of 40%, while construction had five work-related deaths.

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, said workplace deaths cause great trauma and personal suffering for families every year. While welcoming the decline in workplace fatalities, he said: “We should remember that any improvement in numbers provides little comfort to the family, friends and colleagues of the dozens of Irish people whose lives were cut short this year while doing their job.”

Dr Sharon McGuinness, Chief Executive Officer of the HSA, said that the fatality statistics show how vehicles are now the biggest threat to life in the Irish workplace. “Whether it’s a farmer driving a tractor in a yard, or a truck driver delivering a load, across all sectors, incidents involving vehicles accounted for almost half - or 44% - of all deaths last year. The worrying trend is continuing with six deaths provisionally recorded so far this year in the transportation sector” she said.

Tractors were involved in the majority of workplace vehicle incidents last year and claimed six lives but cars, refuse trucks and forklifts were also involved in fatalities.

Expressing concern at the devastation caused by work tragedies on bereaved families, Dr McGuinness urged everyone to be aware of the risks posed by moving vehicles in all workplaces. A change in mindset is required to reduce the numbers of workers dying or suffering serious injury as a result of workplace vehicles: complacency is costing lives.

“Drivers at work often forget about the same hazards that they look out for when driving on the road, like properly maintaining their vehicles, and paying attention to pedestrians when reversing. These checks could help prevent a fatal catastrophe to themselves or a work colleague,” Dr McGuinness concluded.


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Topics: Fleet Management, fleet safety, Health and Safety at work

Health and safety incident at work: employee falls off lorry, company fined

by Eleonora Malacarne on Sep 26, 2019 9:03:00 AM

Health and safety incident at work employee falls off lorry, company fined

Steel water storage tank manufacturer Braithwaite Engineers was recently fined after one of its employees sustained serious injuries after a significant fall while working at their site the town of Risca, located in South East Wales. 

On the 25th October 2017, a Braithwaite employee fell from a lorry bed while unloading and suffered multiple fractures to his body, including to his head, shoulder blade, ribs and fingers forcing a medical absence of five months from work.

The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) investigation concluded that Braithwaite Engineers had not offered suitable and clear instructions nor training to ensure employers carried out this specific activity in a safe manner—something that would ordinarily be expected as part of an employer’s Duty of Care.

Braithwaite Engineers, of Units A&B Leeway House, Leeway Industrial Estate, Newport pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in Cwmbran Magistrates Court and was fined £9,400 (€10,533) and ordered to pay costs of £1,680.75 (€1882).

After the case, HSE inspector Will Powell made the following statement: “Falls from vehicles can be overlooked by employers when considering risks from work at height. Simple measures would have prevented this accident.”

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Topics: News, Stats & Facts, Health and Safety at work, fleet risk assessment

International Worker’s Memorial Day 2019: safety in the workplace and on the road

by Eleonora Malacarne on Apr 30, 2019 9:06:00 AM


Last Sunday was Worker’s Memorial Day for 2019: Workers’ Memorial Day is an international occasion that is commemorated on the 28th of April every year. All over the world workers and their representatives hold events, demonstrations and a whole host of other activities to commemorate the day.

According to the TUC (Trades Union Congress), “Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic ‘accidents’. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t that important a priority. Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) commemorates those workers.”

This is why a special day is set aside in the calendar year (April 28th is the anniversary of the date the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 went into effect), so that everybody concerned with health and safety at work—trade unions, employer groups and individual organisations across the world—can remember all those souls who were injured or have died in work related incidents.

With driving being one of the riskiest work activities, the event has taken on particular importance for drivers and fleets. It represents an opportunity to, in the words of the commemoration’s motto, “Remember the dead: fight for the living” and unions have been asked to not only reflect upon all those killed at work but also consider how to ensure such tragedies are not repeated. That can best be done by building strong trade union organisations, and campaigning for stricter enforcement with higher penalties for breaches of health & safety laws. Events have been organised in Ireland bearing the slogan, “Remembering the past for a safe and healthy future!” and also in the UK to tackle workers’ health and safety.

“Work is to earn a living,” said Esther Lynch, ETUC Confederal Secretary, “not cause death”. On work-related road deaths and suicides, Lynch added, “We know that a large proportion of road deaths are work-related, and with the digital economy there is an increase of people delivering goods by road. We need those platforms who create the conditions to be responsible and take actions to protect workers and prevent work-related road deaths.”


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Topics: fleet safety, Health and Safety at work, onboarding

Use of electronic devices behind the wheel: ruling distracted driving at work

by Eleonora Malacarne on Aug 29, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Use of electronic devices behind the wheel ruling distracted driving at work.jpeg

Distracted driving and, more specifically, the use of electronic devices behind the wheel (not only smartphones used for phone calls, but also portable devices such as tablets to check news or social media) have become increasingly scrutinised with the new flood of technology. However, while this highly unsafe behaviour has been condemned, stats and number speak a different language: distracted driving is a dangerous activity; it is widespread and still needs to be addressed.


According to recent research carried out by IPSOS Mori on behalf of Aviva, four out of five (84%) of Irish drivers admit to using electronic devices or consulting maps while driving. When it comes to sending text messages while at the wheel, a quarter (26%) of Irish drivers admit to this offence.  Almost half (45%) of Irish drivers admit to making phone calls behind the wheel without a hands-free kit and 15% admits checking their social media.


Speaking about the findings, Michael Bannon, Underwriting Manager with Aviva Motor Insurance, said: “It is shocking to find that so many drivers are taking such risks, given all that we know about road safety. Just a split second of distraction or lapse in concentration can result in death on the road. Technology has revolutionised our lives for the better in very many respects but, when it comes to road safety, its ability to distract can prove lethal.”


Things are not any better in the UK: new data published through Fleet News in August suggests that 70,945 penalties were issued to drivers caught using their mobile phone or a similar electronic device behind the wheel in 2016. According to the same source, the DVLA has issues a CU80 (endorsement described by the DVLA as a breach of requirements as to control of the vehicle, such as using a mobile phone. This penalty code must stay on a driving record for four years from the date of the offence), and this applies for the 70,945 penalties issued last year.


In this climate, where the distracted driving problem has been anything but solved, one company has taken the initiative to provide a technological solution: the next version of the standard software bundled on Apple’s iPhones will include a feature that detects driving and then blocks distracting notifications including calls and messages. The overridable feature, known as ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’, will operate automatically once the phone’s owner has opted-in to the feature and then as soon as the phone detects driving.


But this is actually something companies need to tackle with education and risk assessment: the HSA encourages a series of initiatives targeting education, prevention, assessment and company policies and encourages anyone responsible for a fleet to answer to the following:


1. How are you managing the risk of distracted driving for those who drive for work?


2. Have you covered distraction as a key risk in your driving for work risk assessment?


3. What does your safety management system say about how to prevent distracted driving?


4. What more can you do to prevent your employees driving distracted?



How would you answer these questions?



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Topics: Fleet Management, Road Safety, Health and Safety at work

Driving licence checks: a controversial task

by Eleonora Malacarne on Oct 16, 2015 9:00:00 AM


According to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act of 2005, vehicles are considered places of work and employers have a duty to ensure, as far as possible, a safe place of work for everyone involved. Furthermore, employers should, as far as possible, ensure work-related journeys are safe, all members of staff are fit to work and in a suitable condition to drive safely and that vehicles, too, are in a safe condition to drive. The same legislation states that employers need to train employees to protect their safety, health and welfare.
Part of optimising the safety of a job, therefore, involves effective communication with drivers as well as checking whether they are in a fit state to carry out the job safely. This involves checking their driving licence as well as their health, bearing in mind this is not only to safeguard drivers and colleagues, but also other road users.

But how do companies carry out driving licence checks and confirm that they are legally compliant?

With the replacement of the paper counterpart, it has become more complicated for companies to make proper driving licence checks. The DVLA has recently set up a dedicated website to resolve the matter, as fleet managers and businesses were previously using a DVLA website designed specifically to check one´s own personal driving licence and not for the purposes of third part access.
Last summer, therefore, the new DVLA website was launched and drivers were contacted in order to gain their consent to make their driving licence details available to specific third party users (typically employers); but the procedure has been seen by some as too complicated—the access code for employers has a limited duration and it cannot be used for checking foreign driving licences, which requires a pay-for call service.
According to some sources, this new system is more cumbersome for employers and adds time to the licence checking process, especially in the case of big fleets. It seems that currently there is no online alternative for checking driver details in bulk.
Another awkward health and safety aspect to consider is that a minority of drivers are not medically fit enough to carry out their duties, yet do not readily admit this either to themselves or their employer. Employers need to adjust their vetting processes to identify unfit drivers and protect the interests of everyone. Disclosure of medical conditions during medical renewal for licences is in fact voluntary—however, knowing the medical status of a driver should determine which work is made available to them and also to determine the risks.
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Topics: Fleet Management, driving licence, Safety, Health and Safety at work

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