Yesterday, SHD Logistics editor Kirsty Adams and assistant editor David Tran arrived at one of Mentor Training’s facilities in Chesterfield to understand why forklift truck training is essential for organisations looking to build a safer warehouse environment for its employees.
After testing various fork lift truck vehicles, David writes that health and safety in warehouse operations is an issue that should never be overlooked.
As the annual #Safetember campaign message looks to gather momentum next month, which will include the annual Safety Conference on September 20 in Coventry, organisations such as Mentor Training are making concerted efforts to promote a safer warehouse environment.
Its message is not fundamentally geared towards fork lift truck (FLT) operators, but also towards pedestrians and managers. ‘Show Your Hand’ is Mentor’s campaign which aims to standardise communication between forklift operators and those working alongside them.
While forklift operators bare much of the responsibility in handling the vehicle with the level of skill, care and respect needed in today’s busy warehouse environment. As demonstrated the following image below, me and Kirsty had a challenging time during our one-hour training session with Technical Manager – CMIOSH, MIRSM RSP, MIIAI, Andy Cartwright.
During our session with Andy, we were taught to manoeuvre three different FLT vehicles – a counterbalance truck, a reach truck and a low level order picker – with all three providing various challenges in terms of steering, the controls and awareness in particular.
Not only did handling prove a difficulty, but also did the acceleration and braking, with the low level order picker sending the driver to an abrupt stop when applying the brakes – proving a rather different sensation than when driving a road car.
All those considerations made me think how important managers have to play in creating a blueprint for a safer environment – anything from imposing speed limits, to vehicle handling and behaviour, and how pedestrians should always be in the line of sight of the FLT operator.
Operators should also consider the physics behind operating different materials handling equipment, as Andy showed us the issues of load factor and centre of gravity can cause vehicles to topple over to one side, increasing likelihood of injury.
With workers on the ground under pressure to reach their targets in moving a certain number of pallets of good daily, it is easy to understand why workers are taking such dangerous shortcuts – lifting a number of pallets well beyond a fork lift trucks’ capabilities, to driving with a degree of impetuousness, thinking they might not be caught out.
However, according to Mentor, a majority of accidents involve a pedestrian who was at that time of the incident unaware of their current surroundings, with 57% of fork lift accidents, the victim was on foot at the time of impact. It really shows that safety should always take precedent in not only the warehouse, but also beyond.