Searching for safety

July 28, 2014 by Kirsty Adams
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In this month’s column from the Fork Lift Truck Association, FLTA chief executive Peter Harvey MBE says the key to reducing FLT accidents is learning from our peers and working together in partnership to create effective safety campaigns that really work.

If you work in materials handling, you’ve either read about someone who has been injured by a fork lift truck, or worse – you know someone who has. In May this year alone, the following cases were heard in court:
A 49-year-old fork lift operator from Warrington who died when a lorry reversed into the side of his truck and overturned his vehicle; A teenager in Maidstone who required reconstructive surgery after sustaining multiple fractures to his right shoulder, left shin bone and left ankle when a half-tonne heater fell from a pair of raised forks;A 48-year-old Blackpool man, who now only walks short distances with a stick after a fork speared his foot and broke every bone from his instep to the bridge; A 30-year-old father of one who died in hospital two days after a 1.5 tonne concrete panel fell off a telehandler and crushed him.
These accidents are shocking and tragic (and all too common), but they are also avoidable, and it is the duty of everyone who works in this industry to work together to prevent their recurrence.

Improving fork lift safety is the FLTA’s number one priority, and this September we’re launching our most ambitious and comprehensive safety campaign yet.In this column last month we announced the date of this year’s Safety Week as 22-28th September and introduced the theme of the key focal event, the Safety Conference, that takes place on 24th September:Is there a killer in your warehouse?
Speaking at the conference will be a variety of companies from different sectors who have developed successful safety campaigns that have dramatically improved safety at their sites.

Their first-hand accounts will provide us with invaluable tips and real world examples of techniques that every conference attendee can take home and implement on their site.
Moreover, we will be creating resources that will help facilitate this and publishing them on the FLTA website as part of an ongoing safety campaign. The emphasis of the conference will therefore be on learning from our peers and working in partnership to create a road map that will safeguard the health and lives of all our staff.

For example, Babcock Marine (who will be addressing the Conference) worked with a range of stakeholders including the HSE, the Ministry of Defence and the unions to establish 21 standards that they developed and agreed with the FLT drivers themselves.

And this is crucial: it is not just partnerships between organisations that are important; it is also vital that these safety discussions take place within our companies, widening participation and including and engaging with all our members of staff.

Another example is this year’s National Safe Site Award winner, Taylors of Harrogate, who worked alongside Mentor, the provider of operator training to the materials handling industry.Together they established a variety of specific operational training standards and from this produced a training schedule for over 100 operators using a variety of forklifts.

These are but two of a series of “real world” successes that will be shared with delegates.Another first for the Safety Conference (now in its 12th year) is a Practical Safety Panel, hosted by this magazine’s editor Peter MacLeod, and including technical representatives from CFTS, the Trades Union Congress and training experts Mentor, as well as legal and insurance advisors.The aim of the panel will be to field a wide range of questions about these first-hand accounts of successful safety programmes so that together we can all benefit from our combined knowledge and experience.

The Conference is sponsored by Briggs Equipment and will take place at Warwick University on 24th September. It is open to everyone, though discounted entry is available to members of the FLTA and its Safe User Group.To find out more, or to register for updates, please visit the url below, call 01635 277577 or email .

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