The issue of safe sheeting of vehicles has a long history dating back several decades. The industry has addressed this risk through a variety of on-vehicle sheeting systems, varying from netting or even metal lids, some manually deployed from the ground, others fully automated via the touch of a button.
At Express Asphalt, Darwen, there is a substantial ‘collect’ trade comprising vehicles of all sizes, the majority of which do not have on-board sheeting systems. In the past, many drivers of 7.5 tonne vehicles were spotted clambering onto the backs of their vehicles. The biggest risk identified was from drivers climbing up onto the tops of ‘Hot Boxes’to sweep asphalt spillage off the hinged metal lids. Although there was a stand to assist with sheeting, it was only ideal for one size of larger vehicle and therefore, was not used by many drivers.
To provide a sheeting system for these customers at Darwen, Aggregate Industries and Invertech Solutions designed and built an adjustable height, sheeting platform. This was powered using a hydraulic lift mechanism that has been salvaged from a fork lift truck.
The system is wholly controlled by the customer who reverses into a dedicated caged bay, raises the platform to the required height of their vehicle and then steps inside to carry out tasks safely.
Additional protection is afforded from a multitude of fail-safe features including:
- Traffic light and reversing beams, the platform can only be used when parked safely.
- Proximity sensors to ensure all gates are in the correct position before operation Light beams to prevent the unit from descending onto someone stood beneath.
- Timers to prevent unauthorized use outside of operating hours.
- Maximum height and lifting capacity capped to prevent mis- use.
- A three-step guide using a simple diagrammatic format to promote universal understanding was provided to customers. In addition, a one-to-one induction and training session was given at an open day.
- A 5-fold increase in the number of customers using the facility
- Almost all hotboxes and larger vehicles utilising the platform
- Drivers have safe access to sheet vehicles
- Safety cage has significantly reduced the risks
- Drivers do not need to use a harness system
- A quick and simple sheeting solution for all
- Reduced the risk of injury from jumping down from a vehicle
- Technicians can safely access different vehicles to test
- Reduced risk of fall from height
- System could be applied to other sites
- Safer for other road users if vehicles properly sheeted.