Staff who are responsible for training forklift truck drivers have an important duty to ensure they stay safe. In much the same way, an employer has a duty to make sure supervisors are properly trained and competent if they are to protect their employees from the dangers associated with operating forklift trucks.
Health and Safety Legislation
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires you, as an employer, to take steps that protect the health and safety of your employees and others while at work, as far as is reasonably practicable.
This legislation was put in place as a result of the thousands of forklift truck related accidents that are reported every year. These can result in severe injury, damage to equipment, and death, in addition to hefty costs to employers. The areas employers should pay attention to are the main causes of forklift truck accidents, which include:
- insufficient or lack of professional operator training
- premises that are inappropriate for the work involved
- substandard maintenance of equipment
Given the dangers of forklift truck driving, it is up to employers to carry out a full risk assessment of their forklift truck operations and to then introduce appropriate safe working procedures. The aim is to mitigate or reduce the risks as far as possible.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) regularly publishes statistical information related to accidents in the workplace. According to the most recent statistics (September 2017), forklift trucks are involved in a quarter of all workplace transport related accidents, making them the most dangerous form of workplace transport in the UK.
Official figures indicate that forklift trucks injure more people than Large Goods Vehicles (LGV) or Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV). Every year, some 1,300 employees in the UK are hospitalised with serious injuries as a result of forklift accidents, and the HSE says the number is continuing to rise. The injuries sustained are rarely minor and in fact can be extremely serious, including debilitating and life-changing damage, such as:
- complex fractures
Employers’ training responsibilities
- basic training
- task-specific training
- familiarisation training
- attempting to transport loads that are unstable or unsuitable
- leaving a lift truck on a slope, except in case of emergency, in which case chocks must be used for the wheels
- overloading a forklift truck
- travelling with a raised load that blocks your view
- trying to turn on or travel across a raised slope