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Putting "reasonably practicable" into practice

Last month we discussed reasonably practicable steps. The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 talks a lot about doing what is reasonably practicable. It requires that an organisation does what any other organisation would be expected to reasonably do.

Let’s look at an example which can be quite common in the transport industry – overloading. Firstly, we will assume that the transport operator does not want to have overloaded vehicles. Consider what are the ways the vehicles can be overloaded. This may be:

  • The load is too heavy for the GVM and GCM.

  • The load may be uneven and too heavy for the axle set even if it is within the above limits. This can involve vehicle handling considerations.

Taking each of these points, consider what is reasonably practicable to do.

The load is too heavy for the GVM and GCM Does the operator/driver know the loading limits of the vehicle? If not, provide some training and be sure that he/she understands what they mean. Does the operator/driver know the weight of the load? This can be assessed in a variety of ways: the load can be weighed on a set of scales in the warehouse; the individual products can be weighed before being loaded onto a pallet; there may be access to a weighbridge; bulk loads can be estimated by knowing the capacity of the loader bucket; the loader bucket may have scales; the truck may have scales; and so on.

The load is uneven Does the operator/driver know the axle ratings of the vehicle? Do they understand about vehicle dynamics and how to load the vehicle evenly? If not, provide some training and be sure that he/she understands what vehicle dynamics mean; too much load at the rear of the vehicle affects the steering and too much load at the front of the vehicle may cause the rear to lock up. The load must also be even left to right or the vehicle may not corner or stop well. The driver is responsible for the load. He or she needs to give some direction about how the vehicle(s) are loaded. This may mean that the load needs to be moved or redistributed to be within loading limits, and to ensure good handling. Applying reasonably practicable steps is not difficult. It may require some thought, and consideration must be given to every step of the process. There is usually plenty of reference material to support this process. For instance, the New Zealand Truck Loading Code should be used in the above example.

How can Safewise help? We work with organisations that need more health and safety knowledge, or more time, than they have.

© 2017 Safewise Ltd.

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