The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), through the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) forum, has recently issued an alert to draw attention to potential issues with vehicles using hydraulically-powered doors.

The alert is intended for organisations in the waste and recycling sector that operate vehicles with hydraulically-operated rear doors, hatches, body sections, and similar components, though other businesses might use these kinds of vehicle.

What’s the problem?

It follows a fatal accident where a person was working beneath the top-hinged hydraulically-powered rear door of a road sweeper. The door mechanism failed, causing it to slam shut and resulting in fatal crush injuries.

It’s also applicable to other waste vehicles with similar hydraulic components, like the top-hinged rear door on a walking-floor bulk waste trailer or the lifting rear body section on most refuse collection vehicles (RCVs).

Hydraulic systems and their components can fail in lots of ways, which has caused serious and fatal accidents. To prevent these incidents from occurring, individuals shouldn’t work under raised doors, hatches, or body sections relying solely on hydraulic systems.

Instead, some form of fully independent secondary protection should be fitted to the vehicle by the manufacturer (or other competent party) and used. Typically in waste vehicles, this could be a prop fitted to the vehicle body, which swings or slides into place (although other methods exist).

Actions you should take:

  • Review your risk assessments for the operation and maintenance of this equipment to ensure effective controls for managing the risk of mechanical and hydraulic failure are in place and operational.
  • If your vehicles aren’t fitted with props or similar devices, contact your supplier to determine what other controls – such as dual cylinders with control monitoring or automatic anti-drop protection – are in place, and if they’re fully independent and effective if a single component (like a hydraulic cylinder or hinge) fails or detaches. Use a competent fitter and make sure any retrofitted devices don’t interfere with the safe operation of existing systems.
  • Ensure props and other similar devices are adequately designed, maintained, functional, and used by your team. Make sure you monitor this. It’s crucial that workers are trained to understand the risks of working beneath unsupported hydraulically operated equipment and know how and when to use the prop or similar device.
  • Regular inspection and maintenance of your equipment is an extra safety measure and not a substitute for independent physical safety mechanisms to prevent the gravity fall of doors, hatches, or body sections.

The HSE and WISH Forum are urging all operators to urgently check the props and similar devices on their relevant vehicles. Your monitoring arrangements need to ensure that props and similar devices are well maintained, undamaged, and actually being used.

If you need more information on the changes or support, please email