In this month’s column from the Fork Lift Truck Association, FLTA chief executive Peter Harvey MBE outlines the association’s most ambitious safety programme yet – and challenges every fork lift truck company in the UK to get on-board.
Whether you know it or not, if you work in the materials handling industry you work alongside the most dangerous piece of workplace transport equipment in the country: the fork lift truck.
They’re responsible for more than 800 accidents a year in the UK and these aren’t just knocks and scrapes – they’re crushed limbs, shattered bones, long-bone fractures, and amputations. These accidents forever change the lives and fortunes of the injured and their families.
At last month’s National Fork Lift Truck Safety Conference at Warwick University, the FLTA launched our most ambitious safety initiative yet: an ongoing step-by-step Safety Programme designed specifically for the fork lift truck industry that any company – regardless of size – can implement.
The Association has worked alongside representatives from the HSE, SHD Logistics magazine and other leading bodies and experts within the materials handling industry to produce a programme that will make a difference to each and every company operating fork lift trucks.
The idea is simple: each month on the FLTA website the Association will publish a series of practical steps you need to take to move forward through the programme. Every step of the way you will be supported with free fact sheets, posters and safety resources, as well as signposts to the right places for further guidance and important safety advice.
STEP 1: GETTING INFORMED
To take your very first step on the programme, visit the FLTA website and explore the “Fork Lift Safety” tab within the top navigation bar. You will find all the details you need there.
The very first thing a participating company needs to do is to choose your champion: select a willing safety representative who is prepared to take the lead for improving safety on your site. This may be you or a colleague. But regardless, it should be someone who is committed to positively changing fork lift operations and will unswervingly lead the way – communicating their message throughout your company and motivating colleagues out of their comfort zones and bad habits.
The importance of good supervision in this context – both morally and legally – is paramount, and it is vital that the safety representative has the training and background to competently identify and assess hazards, as well as the confidence to act when bad practice occurs.
Once your safety champion has been chosen, their most important task in month one is for them to read and familiarise themselves with the key legal safety documentation on fork lift trucks to ensure they have a sound foundation of knowledge on which to build.
The principal starting point is our industry’s “Bible”: ‘Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training Approved Code of Practice and guidance (HSE series code L117)’. Known throughout the industry as ‘L117’, this publication outlines the 10 pieces of legislation regulating the use of industrial trucks and, crucially, contains the HSE’s Approved Code of Practice (ACOP).
There are more detailed directions for Step 1 on the FLTA website, including further publications and legislation to familiarise yourself with, and next month in this column we will discuss Step 2 in the programme.
If you are committed to improving safety, I would also ask that companies consider membership of the FLTA’s Safe User Group. Developed especially for fork truck users, it provides privileged access to legislation guidelines, advice on regulations, specialist publications, health and safety updates, Technical Bulletins, safety alerts, etc., as well as an independent telephone helpline.
I would urge that every person reading this, and every company whose work involves fork lift trucks, gets involved with the safety programme and takes this simple first step for their colleagues’ benefit, and their own. If you want to know how to save a life, now or in the future, this is it.