How to avoid loading/unloading exclusion zone (LUEZ) incidents
By David Huisman
Thursday, 07 September, 2017
The operation of trucks, excavators, forklifts and other heavy vehicles in both industrial worksites and public areas is dangerous. Far too often, serious accidents occur when personnel are loading and unloading these powered mobile plants.
Despite the many measures taken, loading and unloading procedures are still incorrectly followed. Heavy machinery falls from loading ramps, which can result in life-altering injuries. In worst-case scenarios, these accidents end in fatalities.
These recurring on-site personnel safety issues are commonly referred to as Loading, Unloading Exclusion Zone incidents or LUEZ for short. According to WorkCover Queensland, there are more than 200 serious LUEZ incidents in the construction industry yearly.
This frequency of injury or death due to LUEZ incidents is far too high. Detailed below are some best practice methods that can be used to help avoid mobile-plant-related accidents.
Move personnel away from the LUEZ
One of the simplest ways to avoid LUEZ injuries is to decide where your hazard zones begin and end with a full risk assessment of your working area. The next step is to move people away from the hazard area when loading or unloading is occurring.
During the loading/unloading process, large, heavy and hazardous items could fall and cause injury or death to those within the vicinity. By moving anyone who doesn’t need to be in the area away from the danger zone, you’re mitigating risk and decreasing the likelihood of a LUEZ accident.
If you’re the manager or safety officer of a worksite, it will be your responsibility to ensure that during the loading/unloading process personnel who don’t need to be in the danger area stay segregated from it.
Decide who is the LUEZ authority
Another way to avoid serious LUEZ accidents is to determine who the authority figure will be during the loading and unloading process. Is it the forklift operator, the truck driver or the person operating the excavator?
All worksites are different and all on-site teams work differently. But the factor of leadership is common to all worksites. A strong hierarchy of control needs to be followed, wherever you are. Determining a leadership figure makes communicating between multiple parties simpler.
Completing loading and unloading tasks will be less dangerous when movement is commanded by a singular figure.
Cease activity when personnel can’t be seen
If at any point personnel can’t see each other during a loading and unloading procedure, all activity should stop immediately. Not being able to see or communicate with each other increases the likelihood of a serious accident.
On-site safety officers or managers should instil in their personnel a desire to be aware of their surroundings always. Complacency during loading or unloading can easily set in. Training your drivers and mobile plant operators to stay focused and remain inquisitive of what is happening during loading and unloading can help avoid LUEZ incidents.
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