New Guide to Help Employers Ensure Safe Coupling and Uncoupling

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A new guide has been produced to help ensure that trailers are safely coupled and uncoupled to avoid accidents in haulage jobs.

A recently published guide aims to help hauliers avoid injury when coupling and uncoupling trailers. Produced by a working group comprising certain members of the Transport and Logistics Forum, the guide aims to reduce the incidence of injury resulting from vehicle runaways and trailer rollaways, which, in rare cases, can have very unfortunate consequences.

Regrettably, there are a few grave injuries happening yearly to those in haulage jobs as a result of incomplete coupling between a trailer and its vehicle, causing the two to unexpectedly come apart. These so-called runaways and rollaways can, in most cases, be avoided by following certain safety procedures during the coupling and uncoupling processes. Coupling and uncoupling are not inherently hazardous procedures (even when correct safety procedures are not followed, incidents and accidents are rare), but risk can be nearly eliminated by ensuring that things are done properly.

Many of those in senior haulage jobs hope to make the guide part of standard HGV operator training, as a good working knowledge of the guide could avert a good many of these incidents. The FTA’s Health and Safety Laboratory has determined that a significant number of drivers have never been given a full understanding of the workings of parking brakes, and malfunctions in these systems is a major cause of runaways and rollaways. For example, a large number of drivers have never been informed that uncoupling the air lines does not automatically engage the parking brake on the trailer.

The guide aims to dispel this and other false beliefs with clear, concise and to-the-point advice on operating the various brakes and safety mechanisms involved in coupling and decoupling. This will help avoid those rare occurrences where those in haulage jobs are injured as a result of incorrect coupling or uncoupling. The guide contains detailed photographic guides as well, providing a visual reminder of how to operate the machinery. While many operators will simply be reading what they already know, in a few rare cases the information could prevent injury.

The Transport and Logistics Forum working group, overseen by the Health and Safety Executive, has worked in close co-operation with the FTA to ensure that the guide is comprehensive but also concise enough to be of practical use to a busy haulier. The insider knowledge provided by the FTA ensures that the guide isn’t weighed down by any number of excessive procedures that can cost a haulier valuable time when working to a tight deadline.

Not only will the guide be used as a training aid, but it will also be used as a gold standard when investigating existing safety procedures and establishing new ones. It is hoped that, along with additional training and a greater focus on correct coupling and uncoupling, the incidents associated with the practice will soon become a thing of the past, and guides such as this will become an accepted part of all haulage jobs.

Article Tags: Guide Aims, Haulage Jobs, Safety Procedures

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