Page 59 - Hub Magazine Issue 56
P. 59

Mentor Training
Safety First for Weighbridge Operations
Weighbridges play a vital role in today’s waste, quarrying and agricultural industries, providing a valuable and efficient way to weigh vehicles leaving site with collected products safely, efficiently and in line with legal requirements.
Ideally weighbridges should be located at the very edge of a site with simple access and two clear entry and exit routes which do not interrupt the flow of traffic in and out of site and monitored by a structured traffic management system.
As always, the movement of vehicles poses a high safety risk, but do we know the full extent into which weighbridges play a factor in this?
According to the HSE, there are over 500 incidents involving workplace transport every year. Risks of vehicle movements can be split into 3 crucial categories: site safety, vehicle safety and driver safety and monitoring these categories aided by risk assessments and Safe Systems of Work helps to minimise the safety implications.
There are many risks that a vehicle can take onto the public highway and a weighbridge operator plays a major part in monitoring the safety of vehicles entering and exiting the site.
It is important to consider the following risks that seems to pose the highest threat to weighbridge safety:
• Overloading of a Vehicle
• Sheeting Load
• Balance
• Pedestrian Awareness
• Edge Protection
• Communication Overloading of a Vehicle
Each vehicle has a maximum load it can carry. It’s vital that the weighbridge operator is trained properly to ensure that the goods loaded into the vehicle meets the laws and regulations of that equipment type and ensures the vehicles are not overloaded which may cause a potential overturn. Every vehicle entering onto the weighbridge is different, so it is important that the operator can work out the correct safety load for that truck before the loading procedure begins.
Sheeting Load
Any vehicle which has the ability to shed some of their load must have a sheeting device to prevent any unintentional loss of load. Many of these can be operated mechanically from inside the cab of the vehicle, thus reducing the requirement of the driver needing to be outside their cab.
The balance of a weighbridge may change from time to time. Regular checks should be conducted by a competent operator to ensure the weighbridge is correctly balanced and when unloaded, the indicator reads zero. A build-up of dirt and debris may cause the balance to be affected so it is important that regular maintenance checks are carried out on the equipment and it is kept as clean as possible at all times.
Pedestrian Awareness
It is important that pedestrian routes are clearly marked around the weighbridge station and at no point where the vehicle is entering or exiting the site can a pedestrian be near the truck; any pedestrians present must be in the weighbridge office or inside the truck. Pedestrian activity within the operational areas shall wherever possible be restricted, particularly in hours of darkness or where any major maintenance works are taking place that can compromise hearing or sight. For certain operations “no entry” zones should be identified and clearly marked by signs, fencing, cones etc.
Edge Protection
There is always a risk of a vehicle falling over the side of a weighbridge if the height is significantly raised above the surrounding ground and the edging is not correctly protected. Marking the edges of the weighbridge and providing suitable barriers for sites that may see large vehicles entering will decrease the risk of a vehicle falling over the side of a weighbridge or cause to damage to the equipment. Drivers may also be compromised by factors out of their control such as weighbridge maintenance or restricted access; this must also be accounted for.
A lot of busy sites that see a large number of vehicles entering and exiting now have intercoms systems installed to help speed up the weighbridge process and also to increase safety on site. This allows the driver to communicate with the weighbridge operator upon entering the weighbridge and helps speed up the process and prevent a back log of traffic and a potential traffic bottleneck accident occurring.
When entering or exiting a hazardous waste site, the driver must be in as little contact with the materials loaded upon the truck as possible, so these systems help to speed up the weighbridge process to allow the driver to unload the materials as quickly as possible.
It is important that the weighbridge operator ensures the equipment is safe, set up correctly and fully operational to carry out the work; this includes operating the weighbridge and managing the weight of loads, being aware of others around and ensuring the weighbridge is maintained in an operable condition to complete the work.
To find out more information on how to become a competent weighbridge operator or to discuss completing a weighbridge VQ with Mentor, contact us on 01246 386900. May/June 2019 - Issue 56
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