Site safety: vehicle use

words: Simon Bloxham

The areas in which we work can be a major source of risk, particularly in the open air. I know that many of you keep limousines, hearses and other vehicles in garage space and yards, where both employees and members of the public regularly move around.

This can pose a particular risk, to employees or visitors, of being injured while vehicles are being driven around the yard – particularly when they are being reversed. But the risk doesn’t stop there. What about on the road? You might not have experienced it, but we do hear, from time to time, about accidents where members of the public are accidentally run over by hearse drivers.

What can I do?

Complete a risk assessment of your yard and garage areas and answer these questions:

• Are the entry and exit gates wide enough?
• Can vehicles manoeuvre easily?
• Does the site layout minimise reversing?
• Are procedures in place for reversing?
• Is the view restricted when entering or leaving the site?
• Is the road surface in good repair?
• Are vulnerable areas, such as exit doors, protected?
• Are mirrors placed in blind spots?
• Are lighting levels adequate?
• Are pedestrians kept totally separate from traffic routes? If not, are their movements across traffic routes minimised?
• Make sure your drivers are capable of driving safely

This last point is really important. Drivers take responsibility when behind a wheel but if you knowingly allow a less able driver to move your vehicles around, the investigation will not overlook this.


This will identify actions that you can take to minimise risk, such as:

• Installing a mirror at a blind spot
• Defining areas for pedestrians by appropriate signage or painted walkways
• Implementing appropriate manoeuvring procedures

The procedures could contain some or all of the following:

• Before entering the yard, the driver should ensure that the way is clear to enter
• Only authorised persons should be allowed in the yard where vehicles are stored or moved
• Visitors must be accompanied at all times
• Vehicles should only be reversed when necessary and with the assistance of a colleague
• When leaving the vehicle, drivers should ensure that the engine is off, the handbrake applied and the keys removed. This is to avoid the vehicle moving without warning and particularly applies when leaving a vehicle on the road.
• If the view is restricted at the exit of the yard, then the driver should ask a colleague to see them out


Driving is a hazardous activity and you should always ensure that your employees are aware of their own personal safety while driving. Advice we would suggest is:

• Avoid driving for long hours and take sensible breaks
• Plan the journey such that they know precisely where they are going
• Always wear the seat belt
• Never use a mobile phone while driving, unless hands free. Even with hands free keep the use of mobiles to a minimum and assess the risk before using
• Keep car doors locked when driving
• Park in a safe, well lit area, especially if returning in the dark
• Always lock the car with valuables out of sight (preferably in the boot)
• Always approach the vehicle with the key/alarm in hand, and be aware of people around

When an employee drives for the first time, then you may wish to assess the specific risks and complete certain checks to ensure that the employee knows and understands all the procedures applicable. Check that they have a valid license and can legally drive.

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