We at TRAD, have been for some time, trying to address the issues regarding working at height when our operatives are unloading vehicles. The benefits of creating a detachable safe zone around the load on a lorry are obvious and another step forward in TRAD's Play it Safe campaign.
It has been common practice over the last several years that scaffolding companies use tube and fitting to erect hand rails to the existing horns on the side of the trailer.
This system has never really been fit for purpose for the following reasons:
The scaffolders and banksman still have to climb on to the top of the load to sling the bundles, the handrail will then increase or decrease in height as the load is either added or removed leaving the operatives vulnerable until they re-adjust the handrail. When slinging the bundles and lifting with a crane the handrail often gets snagged as the load is lifted causing damage and secondary dangers. The materials are often unloaded by forklift when the vehicle returns to the yard, this means that the yard staff have to access the vehicle to remove the handrail prior to unloading. A fixed ladder access point is rarely determined on site and often a ladder is just placed up the back of the trailer.
At TRAD we have always regarded the above system as temporary and the subject has been raised many times for discussion at our weekly Contracts Meetings and monthly Safety Leadership Team Meetings. These meetings contain a wide variety of our workforce so that we can gain the opinions of all involved in our operations. It was widely believed that little could be done unless we invested in an entire new fleet of trailers with a bespoke platform that somehow slid out from under the deck; as you can imagine this would be a huge task with nearly fifty trailers to replace.
It was our Yard Manager, Dicky Hackett that finally came up with the working idea, to use and adapt some of our system scaffolding to form a walkway on the outside of the trailer that could be stored under the flatbed when not in use.
We have adapted the one board brackets by changing the wedge to a pin which then fits into reinforced holes down the side of the trailer. The decks are then placed in position and locked with the safety plates and the standards erected on the pins of the brackets with the ladder placed at the end. The first section of handrail is erected as a goal post so that when access is made to the walkway, protection is in place and the remaining sections of handrail can be fixed. These trailers have all been adapted to MOT standards and the whole process takes around five minutes for the operatives to erect. All our labour has had instruction and training in our yard on how to erect and dismantle the system.