Do You Have Transportation Safety Policies in Place?

by: Smith and Howard

September 21, 2016

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Preventing accidents and promoting safe practices on jobsites are among the highest priorities of any responsible contractor.

First and foremost, you have an ethical and legal obligation to look after your employees’ welfare. Running projects safely also has practical and financial advantages: Accidents and injuries drive up project and insurance costs, and a poor safety record will make it harder for you to obtain future work.

Effective safety programs address all sorts of potential jobsite hazards — fall protection, personal protective equipment and power tool safety, among other issues. One area that’s often overlooked is vehicle accidents, which is a fairly common occurrence on construction sites. It’s important that your safety program include policies to prevent vehicle accidents, and that ongoing safety training efforts reinforce these policies.

Common hazards

Vehicles on construction sites include cars, pickup trucks, skid-steers, forklifts, backhoes, bulldozers and dump trucks. The most common causes of transportation injuries are people getting hit or run over or falling from vehicles. Overturned trucks, cars and equipment — and objects falling (or flying) off vehicles — are also typical problems.

To minimize the risks of each type of accident occurring, begin the safety process during job planning. Look at potential hazards, and figure out what actions you can take to reduce the risk of an accident.

Site layout and conditions

The physical layout and conditions of a jobsite have a major impact on transportation safety. Establish a traffic plan for each site. A one-way traffic system may significantly reduce the risk of collisions. Also, use physical barriers to segregate vehicle and pedestrian traffic wherever possible, and provide suitable pedestrian crossing points with adequate warnings.

Establishing adequate room and routes for the types and quantity of vehicles will help maintain road surfaces in good condition. Avoid sharp turns and obstructions in layouts. Act quickly to improve conditions if severe weather hits the site.

Vehicle maintenance

Poorly maintained vehicles can break down unexpectedly or fail to brake in a timely fashion. Carry out regular inspections and maintenance on all vehicles. Ensure that vehicles are equipped with proper safety features and meet required standards. Install rollover protective systems and falling-object protective systems where appropriate.

In addition, if you haven’t already, install audible warning devices that sound when vehicles are put in reverse. Flashing lights and brighter paint colors can also increase vehicle visibility when needed.

People procedures

Safety begins and ends with people. Choose drivers carefully: They should be medically fit, with good mobility, vision and hearing. You naturally have to thoroughly train drivers to operate their vehicles safely and professionally.

Mind the safety of those around vehicles as well. Require workers to wear high-visibility clothing if pedestrians and vehicles can’t be adequately segregated. Restrict workers’ access to reversing areas, assigning a trained signaler to assist drivers when needed. Brief all delivery truck drivers on safe procedures for loading and unloading their vehicles.

Regular reinforcement

Reinforce your transportation safety policies regularly through proper signage, written and verbal reminders, and ongoing training. Remember, doing so is not only in your employees’ best interests, but also that of your construction company’s bottom line.

For additional information on our construction advisory services, please contact Paul L. Atkinson, CPA, at 404-874-6244 or leave us a message below.

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