Southall Associates discusses how to safely accept deliveries as a merchant.

A Turkish lorry driver was tragically killed recently while unloading his lorry at a client site, when he was crushed by part of the load. The company accepting the delivery was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to ensure an unloading operation was managed correctly.

The HSE’s view was that “the company accepting the delivery should have undertaken a risk assessment of the activity, and should have provided employees with suitable instructions and safe systems of work for accepting deliveries to site”. The fine levied on the company accepting the delivery was £120,000 plus £16,021 costs, for a single breach of section 3(1) of the HSWA 1974 and reg 3 of the Management regulations.

As a merchant, you accept numerous deliveries on a daily basis and often it is assumed that the delivery driver is responsible for his or her load. This case clearly puts responsibility back into the hands of merchants – so what do you need to do?

  1. Ensure you know what types of delivery vehicles are arriving at your site. Staff need to be aware of where the vehicles should be guided to park, and if necessary put signage in place if the driver should contact your yardman before entering the site with the wagon
  2. Ensure delivery vehicles are controlled by yard staff to prevent workplace transport accidents. Keep pedestrians clear of reversing vehicles
  3. Define how vehicles should approach your site. If possible avoid all reversing. If there is a defined method for getting vehicles into the site, make sure staff are aware and the training recorded
  4. Make sure your staff know how all delivery types are to be handled. Are some forked off the curtain side; are some hand-balled off, or some lifted with a lorry-mounted lifter? This should be in your risk assessments
  5. How do you control delivery drivers on your site? Ensure your PPE rules are enforced. This should include anyone working on the back of a vehicle wearing a hard hat with chin strap/restraining device. Or even better - don't let them work on the bed of the vehicle
  6. If you have particular requirements for deliveries, these should be put in writing to supplies. Likewise, if you have repeat offending delivery drivers not complying with your site rules or acting in a safe manner, you have a duty to stop them and you should highlight this in writing to the supplier.