Informa Markets

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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
November 17, 2014

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Mobile welfare unit safety regulations: are you up to speed?

Recent regulation changes have put even greater focus on the design and manufacture of all types of vehicles, including mobile welfare units.

It can often be a daunting task for health and safety practitioners, plant and fleet managers to keep up with the latest regulations. And despite the fact that no company would claim to put budget constraints before safety, there are those that do and unfortunately some who simply put their head in the sand and hope for the best.

Whether it’s ensuring that a construction site meets exacting safety standards or a large piece of kit is compliant, ignorance is no excuse. And it is imperative that people with the responsibility for the safety of others don’t overlook the less obvious everyday dangers – these include the use of mobile welfare vans.

Whether purchased or hired, these vehicles may be thought of as an extension to a company’s fleet and therefore not afforded the questions which may be asked when hiring a long reach excavator for example. However, mobile welfare units transport thousands of workers everyday and are used extensively in the construction industry, by rail and road workers, at quarrying sites and in the aerospace and agriculture industries.

Regulation changes in relation to safety and environmental standards were recently brought into force by the Department of Transport’s approval agency, the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) which is the national approval authority for new on and off-road vehicles.

It states that the latest generation of mobile and roadside welfare cabins must be VCA Type Approved. But what does this mean for health & safety, plant and fleet managers?

Crucially, it means that the onus is on them, the company they work for and the driver of the vehicle to ensure that their mobile welfare unit has been registered and holds up to date Type Approved certification. This guarantees that during the process of converting the vehicle from a simple panel van to a fully functioning mobile welfare van, it has passed the very stringent checks that are enforced to ensure that suitable processes, controls and documentation have taken place. The vehicle will also have been submitted for inspection at a registered centre to ensure that the conversion process was robust and in compliance with this required standard.

Many components and processes are governed by the certification and include items such as seat fixing brackets and seat belts right through to gross vehicle weight.

With your average mobile welfare van carrying up to seven personnel at any one time, it is imperative that those people are given the utmost in protection should the vehicle be involved in a collision.

For those who have hired a cheaply converted van which doesn’t have Type Approval certification – and there are plenty around – the consequences are dire. You’re effectively throwing your staff in the back of a standard transit van. Not only will your insurance be null and void, the offence will land you with a hefty fine and penalty points. Should the worst happen and a collision occurs which results in death, it’s not just the driver who will be held to blame. The employer is liable too and if convicted of manslaughter, a prison sentence may follow.

I wonder how many people have picked up the phone today to order a mobile welfare unit and thought – or even known – to check if it is Type Approved? Any supplier worth its salt will know exactly what you’re asking for. Steer clear of those who don’t and think what a lucky escape you may have just had.

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john williams
john williams
9 years ago

Mr Richardson, you have failed in your rambling speech and comments to mention IVA individual vehicle approval these are not done through the VCA, rather than VOSA f you are not mass producing such vehicles as the likes of clarke conversions who you use and who are currently building your new Garic Mercedes vans at their factory. Also to point out your comments are leading consumers to use you, but you are an end user, hire company who do not even get involved in building these vehicles merely a hire company so using this platform to scare people and underlining… Read more »

Name Supplied
Name Supplied
9 years ago

John Williams, slight correction there in your statement, whilst you are correct you can submit a vehicle to VOSA for an IVA inspection, your comment “You won’t normally need to provide any documentary evidence” is untrue You need to provide evidence that the seats meet a minimum requirement of Reg “76/115 (as amended 2005/41/EC)” and sign a VOSA IVA 19a and 19b form that you meet this requirement and it is an offence under the Road Vehicles (approval) Regulations 2009 to provide false documentation or statements. I have read Mr Richardson’s article and fail to see how what he is… Read more »

John williams
John williams
9 years ago
Reply to  Name Supplied

hi named supplied the basic IVA information was merely copied and pasted from the government website in my defence I truly agree that documentation needs to be supplied Mr Richardson statements are a general negative swiping motion against other welfare providers and for consumers to use GARIC, if read correctly it’s plain as days to see the attempt to undermine other providers of such vehicles and not knowing them or their practises how can he possibly summise that other providers are not conforming to the law.just to test this fact we tested his statement the other day by way of… Read more »

Neil Richardson
Neil Richardson
9 years ago
Reply to  John williams

Good afternoon John, I have read your comments with interest and I find it incredible that you claim that the article is in any way incorrect or misleading and even simply a sales pitch. There are multiple reputable providers of welfare vehicles throughout the UK that service the demands of the nation with the correct control procedures in place, outlined by the governing bodies, as explained in the above article. The article was published to highlight the on going issues within the industry and as a guide on how to avoid the rogue traders who provide vehicles, that un be… Read more »