Every year, in Northern Ireland there are accidents involving workplace transport, some of which result in people being killed and many seriously injured. Pedestrians are knocked down, run over, or crushed against fixed parts by vehicles and fallen from trailers.

Workplace Transport Campaign


Your employer has a legal duty to ensure that the health and safety of their employees, contractors and members of the public are not put at risk as a result of the work they do. Employees and the self-employed also have a duty to look after their own health and safety and that of anyone who might be affected by their work. This page explains how you as an employee or self-employed person can take the right steps to avoid these sorts of accidents involving workplace transport.

What is workplace transport?

Workplace transport is any activity involving vehicles used in a workplace. Vehicles driven on public roads are excluded, except where the vehicle is being loaded or unloaded on a public road adjacent to a workplace.

How should workplace transport be managed in the workplace?

To manage workplace transport effectively, there are three key areas your employer must consider when carrying out their risk assessment:

  • safe site (design and activity)
  • safe vehicle
  • safe driver

Safe site

Segregation Pedestrain walkway

The most effective way of ensuring pedestrians and vehicles move safely around a workplace is for the dutyholder to provide separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic routes. Where possible, a one-way system should be provided as this will reduce the need for vehicles to reverse and will help pedestrians and drivers.

Should complete segregation not be possible, your employer must provide clearly marked pedestrian and vehicle traffic routes, using measures such as barriers and signs. There should be separate entrances and exits for vehicles and pedestrians, and vision panels should be installed on doors that open onto vehicle traffic routes. Where pedestrian and vehicle traffic routes cross, they should be clearly marked using measures such as dropped kerbs, barriers, deterrent paving etc, to help direct pedestrians to the appropriate crossing points. Remember, always follow the dedicated pedestrian walkways and never take short cuts through live traffic routes.

More information can be found in the following leaflet that provides further information on separating vehicles and pedestrians in the workplace. 

  • Keeping pedestrians safe in the workplace - leaflet

Traffic routes Pedestrian walkway

The general principles for safe traffic routes for drivers and pedestrians in the workplace are as follows:

  • make sure they are wide enough for the safe movement of the largest vehicle
  • ensure surfaces are suitable for the vehicles and pedestrians using them, eg firm, even and properly drained - outdoor traffic routes should be similar to those required for public roads
  • avoid steep slopes
  • avoid sharp corners and blind bends
  • keep them clear of obstructions
  • make sure they are clearly marked and signposted
  • keep them properly maintained and report any concerns to the relevant company employee


Every workplace must have suitable and sufficient lighting. All traffic routes, manoeuvring areas and yards should be adequately lit, particularly near junctions, buildings, plant and pedestrian routes.

Every workplace should have suitable and sufficient lighting, particularly in areas where:

  • vehicles manoeuvre, or pedestrians and vehicles circulate and cross
  • loading and unloading takes place

Take care to ensure there are no sudden changes in lighting levels which may lead to drivers being dazzled.

Site visitors People in a warehouse

Visitors are unlikely to be familiar with the hazards of a workplace. When they have access to premises the routes they use should, where possible:

  • always be accompanied by a company representative
  • visiting drivers should report to the site operator for any relevant instructions such as the workplace layout, which route to follow, and where to park, load and unload
  • kept separate from work activities
  • segregated from vehicle traffic, eg a footway with a raised kerb or a separate path
  • clear signage to direct visitors to and from car parks with safe access to the area they are visiting

Site visitors should not be allowed in a workplace transport operating area. If any piece of workplace transport should need to enter an area when site visitors have access, there should be a written procedure outlining the precautions (based on your risk assessment).

More information can be found in the following leaflet which provides further information on safe parking and manoeuvring in the workplace to keep pedestrians safe:

Speed  Speed limit

Reducing the speed of vehicles in the workplace is an important part of controlling traffic. The best way to do this is to use fixed traffic-calming measures such as speed humps, bollards, raised kerbs.

More information can be found in the following leaflet which provides further information on safe driving in the workplace:


Visibility in the workplace needs to be good enough to allow drivers to see and avoid hazards. It is related to the speed that vehicles are travelling and affects the distance they need to avoid hazards by stopping or changing direction safely.

Reversing Lorry in a bay

Around a quarter of all deaths involving vehicles in the workplace occur as a result of reversing. This also causes a considerable amount of damage to the vehicles, equipment and property within the workplace. The most effective way of reducing reversing incidents is to remove the need to reverse. Your employer should introduce a one-way system. Where this is not possible sites should be organised so that reversing is kept to a minimum. Where reversing is necessary, your employer must consider the following:

  • installing barriers to prevent vehicles entering pedestrian zones
  • plan and clearly mark designated reversing areas
  • keep people away from reversing areas and operations
  • use portable radios or similar communication systems
  • increase drivers’ ability to see pedestrians
  • install equipment on vehicles to help the driver and pedestrians, eg reversing alarms, flashing beacons and proximity-sensing devices

More information can be found in the following leaflet which provides further information on safe reversing in the workplace:

Signalling Banksman

In the workplace this is the job of a banksmen that will guide drivers and make sure reversing areas are free of pedestrians. However, in some industries, such as quarrying, banksmen are rarely used due to the size of the vehicles involved. When using banksmen in the workplace your employer must ensure:

  • only trained banksmen are used
  • they are clearly visible to drivers at all times
  • a clear and recognised system is adopted
  • they stand in a safe position throughout the reversing operation

Parking Parking

Parking areas in your workplace should be clearly indicated. There should be separate parking areas for commercial and private vehicles. There should also be designated areas where commercial vehicles can be loaded and unloaded. When parking a vehicle in your workplace always apply the parking brake.

More information can be found in the following leaflet which provides further information on safe parking in the workplace:

Loading and Unloading in the workplace Unloading

To minimise the risks to those involved in loading and unloading, information should be provided on the nature of the load and how it should be properly loaded, secured and unloaded. This information should accompany the load and be available to those involved in the loading, transportation and unloading activities.

The loading and unloading area should be:

  • clear of traffic and people not involved in the activity
  • on level ground
  • segregated from other work areas
  • clear of overhead cables, pipes, or other obstructions
  • protected from bad weather where possible

When operating vehicles and trailers in the workplace you must ensure their brakes are applied and all stabilisers are in the correct position before loading or unloading. Throughout loading and unloading there should be a safe place where drivers can wait. Make sure you take measures to prevent vehicles being driven off during either loading or unloading at loading bays.

Tipping Operations in the workplace Telehandler

To reduce incidents where vehicles overturn during tipping operations, site operators and drivers should co-operate with each other and make sure:

  • tipping is carried out on level ground
  • the tractor unit and trailer of articulated vehicles are aligned
  • wheel stops are used where possible
  • the tailgate is released and secured before tipping
  • no pedestrians are in the tipping area
  • the vehicle is not left unattended and cab doors are closed
  • there are no overhead obstacles, such as power lines

If loads stick during tipping:

  • the vehicle should not be driven to free the load (the body should be lowered and then raised)
  • drivers should not climb onto the raised tipper section to free the load - mechanical ‘vibratory discharge systems’ can help to free a stuck load

Overturning Vehicles in the workplace

To minimise vehicle overturns, site operators and drivers should consider:

  • vehicle suitability
  • the condition and slope of the surface
  • the operating speed of the vehicle
  • traffic routes that avoid sharp bends
  • the nature and positioning of the load
  • drivers should be monitored to ensure they follow safe systems of work, eg they are wearing seat belts which should be used even if a roll-over protection system (ROPS) is fitted

Coupling and uncoupling in the workplace

Drivers and those who have overall control of sites such as the dutyholder should make sure that coupling and uncoupling areas are well lit, with firm and level surfaces. Drivers should be properly trained and have their work monitored by site operators to make sure they follow a safe system of work, involving the use of trailer and tractor unit parking brakes as appropriate.

Sheeting in the workplace

To prevent falls from height when sheeting in your workplace, follow these simple steps:

  • avoid the need to work at height wherever possible, ie sheet from the ground
  • where work at height cannot be avoided, ensure measures such as platforms with barriers to prevent falls are used
  • if there is still a risk of falling, use personal protective equipment to minimise both the distance and consequences in the event of a fall

More information can be found in the following leaflet which provides further information on safe driving in the workplace:

Safe vehicle FLT in warehouse

Every employer by law must ensure the following:

  • all work equipment (which includes vehicles) is suitable for its purpose
  • take account of the working conditions
  • assess the risks to the health and safety of using chosen work equipment

Your employer must ask the following questions:

  • does the driver have good all-round visibility?
  • do I need to provide reversing aids such as CCTV where appropriate?
  • what warning systems (such as horns, sounds and lights) are fitted?
  • is there a way to prevent injury if the vehicle overturns? For example, roll protection, operator restraints or falling object protection?
  • how will the vehicles particularly the braking system, steering, tyres, lights, mirrors and specific safety systems be maintained?
  • what safeguards will prevent people from coming into contact with dangerous parts of the vehicle such as power take-offs, chain drives, exposed hot exhaust pipes?
  • is there a way to prevent the vehicle from moving? For example, by applying brakes and removing the keys?
  • is the vehicle bright enough to be seen?
  • can drivers access and egress the cab safely?
  • do the vehicle lights provide enough light for the driver to carry out their duties?
  • do I need to provide additional ladders, non-slip walkways and guard rails where possible to reduce the risk of falls when climbing onto a vehicle?
  • are the seat belts and restraints safe and comfortable and do they meet the needs of the job?
  • what protection is there from bad weather, extremes of temperature, dirt, dust and fumes?

The design of vehicles used on public roads has to meet specific legal standards, set out in the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999. The overall standard of vehicles used in workplaces should be at least as good as for public roads. However, there are some specific supply standards dealing with mobile plant in the workplace such as lift trucks. 

Further information on rider-operated lift trucks can be found at the link below:

Vehicle safety in the workplace

Your employer must ensure all vehicles are operated safely in the workplace by ensuring:

  • drivers understand there is a clear policy that unsafe vehicles should not be driven
  • always use seatbelts
  • vehicles are not over loaded
  • have appropriate arrangements in place for properly securing loads, such as goods and equipment

Make sure that privately owned vehicles used for work purposes are safe. Workers must do checks on their vehicles, have them serviced and have insurance and a valid MOT.

Maintain vehicles in a safe and fit condition FLT daily check

Make sure vehicles in your workplace are safe to use, by ensuring:

  • daily vehicle checks are carried out and recorded and action is taken if needed
  • planned and preventive maintenance is carried out in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations an MOT certificate only covers basic defects and does not guarantee that a vehicle is safe
  • you inspect tyres and windscreen wipers regularly and you replace them when needed
  • you report defects following your employers
  • you do not operate any vehicle that is unsafe
  • headboards and bulkheads in vehicles and trailers are fitted to protect you and any passengers in the vehicle they should be fit for purpose and checked regularly to make sure they haven’t been damaged
  • you are aware of hazards from electric and hybrid vehicles and what to do if involved in an incident in the workplace, for example the fire risks posed by battery damage in a collision
  • cabs are kept tidy

Riders of two-wheelers

People are most likely to be killed or seriously injured on the roads while riding powered two-wheelers (including motorcycles, mopeds and scooters) or bicycles. They are also disproportionately likely to be involved in a collision which kills or seriously injures a person walking or cycling. So, these need a robust risk management approach when used on the road.

Consider the following for powered two-wheelers and bicycles:

  • if you could use or encourage riders to use safer transport modes in bad weather, which presents a great risk to riders
  • make sure riders are adequately trained and have the skills to ride safely
  • assess loads workers are carrying and whether they destabilise the vehicle and are fastened securely
  • provide hands-free options for operating navigation systems and other apps required for work
  • provide job-specific personal protective clothing

Safe driver Seatbelt on FLT

The law states employers must take account of their employees’ health and safety capabilities when setting them tasks, ensuring they are adequately trained when they are recruited and exposed to new hazards in the workplace.

More information can be found in the following leaflets which provide further information on safe driving, reversing and parking in the workplace:

When driving in the workplace you should:

  • be fully able to operate the vehicle and related equipment safely
  • have received comprehensive instruction and training so that you can work safely
  • always adhere to your workplace speed limit and workplace transport risk assessment.
  • have a mature and responsible attitude
  • understand the vehicle should only be operated as per manufacturers guidelines
  • have a reasonable level of both physical and mental fitness - fitness should always be judged individually as some less physically able people develop skills to compensate

Where possible, your levels of fitness and abilities should match the requirements of the vehicle, situation and task and you have been set. More information can be found on the following page on how your competence and capabilities may be assessed by your employer:

Training FLT Training

The amount of training each driver needs will depend on their previous experience and the type of work they will be doing. Your employer will use their risk assessment to assist them in selecting the level and amount of training you will require. Where appropriate your employer will check that references to training schemes and other qualifications you have detailed are supported by certificates.

It is likely that training will need to cover but not limited to the following:

  • general information about the job, for example route layouts, or how to report risks or accidents
  • training and/or checks to ensure that people can work safely
  • for a driver this is likely to include:
    • making sure they know how to operate the vehicle safely
    • information about particular dangers, speed limits, parking and loading areas and procedures etc
    • it may be necessary to test trainees on site, even when they produce evidence of previous training or related work experience
  • information about how supervision and penalties will be applied
  • an explanation of the company’s ongoing programme of training and refresher training will usually be necessary for all drivers and other employees, to ensure their continued competence in a changing workplace
  • consider keeping a central register of whom in your workplace is competent to control which vehicle - this will make safely allocating tasks and keeping track of abilities much easier

More information on lift trucks can be found in the following link:

All employers must ensure all workers are adequately trained at no cost to them and consider the following:

  • giving priority to those at highest risk, for example drivers or riders with high annual mileage, poor accident records, or vulnerable workers
  • whether drivers and riders need extra training to carry out their duties safely, such as using defensive driving techniques, or how to load and unload safely
  • whether drivers and riders understand how and when to use in-vehicle and additional technology
  • training about other road users, for example cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians
  • if drivers and riders need training on how to assess risks while they are on the road
  • how to assess training needs periodically, including refresher training
  • whether your workers need advanced driver training
  • the benefits of your drivers and riders holding a full driving licence for powered two-wheelers
  • how to ensure your training providers are competent

Induction driving training should cover issues like:

  • violence, crime and assault – how to stay safe and how to report it
  • incident and near miss reporting, as well as confidential health and safety reporting
  • what personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn, how to maintain it and when it needs to be replaced
  • commitment to driving and riding within the law
  • breaks and rest periods
  • company policy on, for example working hours, safe use of multi-apping
  • drivers and riders doing daily vehicle safety checks to make sure that their vehicle is safe to use - this is especially important for drivers and riders that travel long distances
  • safety measures around the loading of vehicles (load security) and backpacks (especially on two wheelers)
  • manual handling techniques
  • safe use of mobile phones/apps

Keeping drivers and riders safe in the workplace

When driving or riding any type of vehicle in the workplace, you must be given clear instructions on keeping safe. Make sure you understand how to:

  • carry out routine safety checks, such as those on lights, tyres, and wheel fixings, and report any faults
  • correctly adjust safety equipment, for example seat belts and head restraints
  • ensure you are safe if your vehicle breaks down, for example to use safety warning triangles and high-visibility jackets
  • act if the load in or on your vehicle moves during the journey, for example to pull over in a safe place as soon as possible, avoiding any harsh braking or steering, and contact you for advice

Also consider the following points:

  • do not be put under pressure to meet delivery targets, as this could encourage poor driving practices including speeding
  • you must never drive under the influence of drink or drugs, including prescription drugs if they could affect the ability to drive or ride
  • are you aware of the height of your vehicle, laden and empty - your employer may need to provide equipment so you can check the height before setting off
  • do you know how to secure loads and ensure that their vehicle is not overloaded or unstable
  • be mindful of other risks around the workplace such as slips and trips or falls from height from your vehicle and ask your employer for further guidance
  • ensure the crash helmets and protective clothing for riders of two-wheelers are of the appropriate standard

Distractions when driving Driving with mobile phone

A distraction is when a driver or rider’s concentration is taken away from the task of driving. Reducing or removing these from drivers and riders will significantly reduce risk:

  • personal digital assistants (PDAs)
  • notifications, apps

Drivers should be mindful of any distraction that may impact on their driving such as mobile phones, other road users, personal circumstances, the radio, and passengers.

When it comes to mobile phones, you as a driver and rider must be aware that:

  • using a handheld mobile phone while driving for calls, texting, web-browsing, taking photographs or videos is an offence
  • using a hands-free mobile phone increases the likelihood of a collision

A self-employed driver or rider should ensure they comply with the law on not using hand-held mobile phones.


Key Legislation