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Code of Practice Coupling/Uncoupling

The danger of coupling and uncoupling of large commercial vehicles has become greater in recent years with the introduction of close coupling techniques; this is generally recognised throughout the industry. In the foreword to the new Code of Practice Health and Safety Executive, Dr Elizabeth M Gibby, Director of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Injuries Reduction Programme, said: “The new Code of Practice is aimed at all managers, supervisors and trainers, but has good advice for everyone who has responsibility for the safety of large goods vehicles an drivers. ”

“Drivers of large goods vehicles face many risks in the course of their work. Some of these, such as the behaviour of other road users, are at least partially outside their control. There is however, one area where the risks are completely in the control of drivers; the coupling, uncoupling and parking of trailers. Sadly, these activities are not carried out safely and every year they cause a number of injuries, some fatal. ”

“In particular, I commend the safe systems of work set out in the five annexes. If suitable risk assessments, drivers work to the system described in this document their own and their colleagues should be safer”

The guide officially launched on 29 March 2006 at Rockingham Motor Speedway, Corby has attracted interest from as far afield as South Africa. John Parry, Engineering Director of DHL Exel who supported the launch welcomed the Code of Practice and hopes that it will encourage best practice to be implemented by all commercial vehicles operators.

Tracey Shelley, Chief Executive of SOE said “In view of the latest developments relating to corporate killing and the impact of the corporate manslaughter bill it is most important that all those involved in the management of health and safety within the road transport industry support the continued use of this Code of Practice”.

The Code of Practice is available online at www.soe.org.uk and for those who wish to use the procedures to produce their own documentation specific to their fleet; an editable copy may be purchased by emailing technical@soe.org.uk.

Thanks go to Rockingham Motor Speedway for hosting the launch and DHL Exel for providing demonstration vehicles.

Editor's Notes:
IRTE (Institute of Road Transport Engineers)
IRTE was founded in 1944 and is one of the most respected names in UK transport with an acknowledged role as the impartial voice of the industry.

Its remit is to encourage ever-higher standards of excellence from a unique and independent standpoint. Safety in operation is a key priority and IRTE has an industry-leading role in this respect.

From its unique and independent standpoint, IRTE encourages its members to reach ever-higher standards of excellence, and safety in operation is a key priority. The IRTEC licensing scheme for technicians and mechanics is a pivotal IRTE initiative aimed at raising standards of vehicle maintenance and repair.

IRTE members come from a wide variety of transport-related roles including apprentices and technicians in the light and heavy and bus and coach sectors, workshop managers, fleet engineers, transport managers and company directors.

SOE (Society of Operations Engineers)
SOE is a professional membership organisation that represents more than 18,000 individuals and companies in the engineering industry. It supports and encourages best practice and health and safety initiatives, and is committed to the ongoing growth and personal development of its members, through specialist knowledge-sharing and professional learning.

SOE welcomes applications for membership from anyone interested in career or business development in road transport, engineer surveying and plant, or from those working within the sphere of operations engineering.

SOE offers members continuous professional development and support throughout their
careers and provides a definitive recognition of status and achievement. The organisation is a Licensed Member of ECUK and is one of the few professional bodies which can nominate members for ECUK registration at EngTech, IEng and CEng levels.

The organisation is a Registered Charity, existing solely for members with all funds being ploughed back into the provision of services.

Further information:
Paul Bayly
Engineering Information Co-ordinator
Society of Operations Engineers
22 Greencoat Place
Tel: 020 7630 1111 E-mail: paul.bayly@soe.org.uk

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