The risks associated with forklifts are considerable. 800 accidents a year are attributed to their use, and some result in death. Colleagues on foot are more liable to injury than the actual operator. Long term sickness, absence and punitive insurance claims can be the result.
Research has shown that insufficient training is a predominant cause of forklift accidents. Operators are also liable to make mistakes, adhering to poorly understood procedures. Other hazards stem from ignorance of the truck and its limitations, plus lack of awareness of the workplace environment.
Other causes include poorly maintained trucks, dim and inoperative lighting, dangerous layouts of working areas with narrow gangways and clutter, and general unsuitability of warehouse premises.
Statutory requirements for the operation of forklifts
Several pieces of legislation apply when it comes to the use of a forklift truck and employers and operators need to be aware of the relevant legislation from the following:
- The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
- The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare Regulations
- The Noise at Work Regulations
- The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations
- The Provision and Use of Workplace Equipment Regulations
- The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations
Other Issues to Consider
Keys to a forklift truck should always be removed by the operator at the end of their shift and kept in a safe and secure place to prevent unauthorised use of the vehicle.
All areas in which the forklift truck is to be driven should be kept as flat as possible and remain clear from obstructions.
All roads, aisles and gangways should be sufficiently wide enough with adequate clearance room overhead. It’s important to make all forklift routes free of sharp bends which could be precarious if the operator is carrying a large and heavy load and, where possible, a one way system should be introduced to avoid the risk of collisions and you should also try to keep the area in which forklift trucks are operating free of pedestrians or else make sure that there are adequate signs and warning notices in place.
Operators should have seat belts/restraints and adequate protective clothing e.g. fluorescent jackets, safety footwear, hard hats etc. Flashing lights and audible warning devices should also be fitted to the trucks if possible.
Regular maintenance, training updates and the reporting of any accidents or near misses will also be necessary to ensure the safety of both the operators and of any pedestrians who may also come into contact with forklift trucks during the course of their job.
of their job.