What do you do in a serious road accident?

In Health and Safety, February 20213 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 12, 2021

Towards the end of last year, Safewise was asked to support an organisation that had recently experienced every truck driver‘s worst nightmare. A car had gone under a trailer, and the vehicle‘s driver had died. Luckily, no one else was in the car. The transport organisation involved has excellent emergency systems, including good communication procedures. Staff acted quickly, checking up on each other, managing the traffic, rushing to the car driver‘s aid and calling the emergency services. No one anticipates a serious accident; such an event will take us by surprise, so it‘s essential to be prepared. Any accident involving multiple vehicles or large numbers of victims such as a bus or a lost load, for example, is serious. Organisations also need to prepare for events they aren‘t part of but are involved with in the aftermath. Because they haven‘t anticipated these events, they often don‘t have the procedures to manage them. And when there are plans, they are often not discussed or reviewed.

What are some of the actions that should be taken when the unexpected happens? The basic steps are:
• Stop in a safe place.
• Make sure that you are safe before exiting your vehicle.
• Make sure the scene is safe – traffic control, etc.
• Check the other people are okay – provide first aid.
• Call the emergency services.

These steps are a good start, but it is sensible to widen the scope. For example, you might include a plan to manage dangerous goods, or how to clean up a spilt load and how vehicles are going to be retrieved. A robust health and safety plan will consider all potential emergencies and how to manage them. The next step is to inform your staff about the plan and practice it. When it is practised – this can be a desktop/discussion – review it and identify anything that doesn‘t work as it should. Update the plan, inform the staff and practice it again. This is a continual cycle and will ensure your emergency plans are fit for purpose. Review the plan after a real-life situation; it is the best test. This means including the staff involved in the event, identifying the problems, amending the plan accordingly, re-informing the staff and practising, practising, and practising.