Passenger safety in retrofitted mini-vans/buses

What happened?

An International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) member reports on an audit into the use of retrofitted vehicles, e.g. converted cargo-duty mini-vans/buses for passenger transportation.  Inspections undertaken in Azerbaijan demonstrated that retrofitted vehicles with supplier certification (e.g. “letter of conformance”), for the retrofit installation and anchoring of seats can potentially be unsafe.  Inspected vehicles were found to be out of conformance with the standards set out by United Nations Vehicle Regulations 17 for seat anchoring – see the UNECE website for details.

Where the seat anchoring is inadequate, there is a potential risk that in the event of a collision, the seats could pull from the floor.

What lessons were learnt?  What actions were taken?

Members may wish to thoroughly inspect the seat anchorages on any retrofitted vehicles in use, and where issues with inadequate seat anchorage bolts are identified, take appropriate action.  The IOGP Safety Alert (#287) notes:

  • Verify through inspection the type of seat anchorage bolts used. Seat anchorage bolts where “square plates” (Figure 1) are welded to the bolts might be inadequate in holding the seat in its position in the event of lateral force being applied (e.g. during collision).  Only use appropriate, fit for purpose, bolts (e.g. made out of one piece) to robustly secure the seat.
  • Verify through inspection the anchoring of the supporting rails and rail supporting beams. These might be inadequately anchored to the vehicle when retrofitted (Figure 2).  These rails and beams must be adequately anchored to the chassis (e.g. bolted).