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Getting operators on board with lift truck safety

Getting operators on board with lift truck safety

Numerous musculoskeletal, and other, injuries occur when getting on and off lift trucks. Laura Nelson, managing director of RTITB, explains how taking some simple steps can help reduce the risk of incident of injury.

In many applications, operators are getting on and off a lift truck, or warehouse truck, multiple times during a shift.  However, even experienced operators are guilty of doing this on ‘autopilot’, failing to consider the risks and often developing bad habits over time.
While mounting and dismounting techniques will vary depending on the design of the truck, adhering to best practice and delivering the correct training can help ensure that safety isn’t compromised. Day to day supervision of operators also plays a vital role. Skilled, trained supervisors should be on the front-line to identify when operators are not following processes and ensure that any issues can be addressed.
To reduce risk when mounting and dismounting a lift truck, employers and supervisors should consider the following.

Before you start
• It goes without saying that employers must ensure that the operator is properly qualified before they allow them to drive a lift truck. However, they should also check that the operator’s training has included a demonstration of correct mounting and dismounting procedures. We recommend that trainees should also have chance to get on and off a truck under supervision during their training so that their technique can be assessed and corrected by a qualified instructor.
• All trucks are different, even those of the same type or from the same manufacturer.  Employers and supervisors should refer to the manufacturer’s operator manual for specific advice on mounting and dismounting the truck so that operators are suitably trained for the particular truck(s) that they will be using.
• Pre-use inspections are not always done properly, if at all, but these are vital for safety.  An operator must be trained to conduct routine pre-use inspections before using a lift truck. This will include a visual inspection of key parts of the truck that must be done before the truck is mounted.
• As an employer, you must ensure the required protective clothing is being worn. Operators should also be taught about what should not be worn when operating a truck. For example, hanging jewellery can cause a number of risks and items like phones and keys should always be removed from back pockets.

* Read the rest of Laura's article in the September issue of SHD Logistics.

[ Download one of RTITB's useful free guides or leaflets exploring the different options open to companies looking for forklift, reach, rough terrain and pallet stacker operator training by visiting]

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