It has been reported that during some visits to companies the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors found that workers often didn’t wear seatbelts, and the forklift driving operations were not suitably managed within the company. The speed at which some drivers drove was also not controlled, leading to a dangerous situation for many employees.
Forklift trucks are involved in hundreds of accidents in the UK each year, very often resulting in serious or fatal injuries. Make sure you manage your driving operations properly in your workplace.
5 Top Tips for Safe Operation of Forklift Trucks
- Ensure that all of your forklift truck activities are risk assessed so any dangers are identified. Consider how reversing operations should be safely carried out – aim to limit reversing where possible, and use one-way systems to keep vehicles moving in the same direction. Keep pedestrians separate from driving operations by using barriers and specific pedestrian walkways.
- Make sure all drivers are suitably trained for the type of forklift they will be driving (e.g. counterbalance or reach). The training undertaken should include the activities they will be expected to do in their role, so doing it on your own premises is a good idea if possible. Organise refresher training at regular intervals.
- Workers need to know the safe operation rules. Use regular toolbox talks or similar training to remind them of the speed limits, the required use of seatbelts to prevent them falling out of the cab, and the need to carry out pre-use checks each time they use a forklift truck.
- Make sure your pre-use checks include verifying that all safety features are present and working – this includes mirrors, reversing lights, alarms, and seatbelts. Drivers should sign to say that they have completed the checks. Have a system in place whereby any defects are reported immediately, and the truck is taken out of use until repaired. Remember also that forklift trucks need to be under a scheme of thorough examination by a competent person.
- Check the local environment regularly, to ensure lift trucks can operate safely. The ground should be level, free from potholes and able to take the weight of the vehicles on it. Ensure good housekeeping levels are maintained, and that rubbish does not accumulate in the driving areas.
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Never allow anyone to undertake work on gas items if they do not have the necessary qualifications, competence and registration to do so. Fires and explosions have happened before in workplaces and domestic premises – some with fatal consequences – for these very reasons.
- As an employer (or landlord) you need to ensure that all installations, maintenance checks and repairs of gas items are carried out by a registered Gas Safe engineer. Ask for the individual’s ID before they start the job – you can verify their registration number by checking on the Gas Safe Register website
- Make sure that the engineer is actually authorised to carry out the type of work you want them to do by checking the back of their Gas Safe registration card – this will state whether they are licensed to work on gas fires or boilers, for example.
- Check their card also for the expiry date of their registration – if it has expired, they should not undertake the work.
- Ensure that the work has been properly planned before the job starts. Confirm that the engineer has completed a risk assessment and has considered the potential hazards of the work, such as the location of any asbestos or electrical wiring and the control measures needed to eliminate or reduce the risk.
- Ask other companies if they can recommend a Gas Safe contractor they have used before who did a good job and – importantly – worked in a safe manner.
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Investing in the training of staff benefits both the worker and the company, and can help to keep the workplace safe for everyone – but it could all be for nothing if that training is not put into practice.
Make sure you take steps to ensure that your staff follow the right procedures.
- Make sure all staff attend relevant training sessions, and use signing in sheets to confirm their attendance. Make it someone’s job to check attendance rates, and to follow up with those who did not attend to find out why.
- Ensure that your training sessions are relevant, they include the necessary information and are pitched at the right level. Ask for feedback on sessions to see what worked and what didn’t.
- Consider in advance why staff might not follow their training in practice, or deviate from working procedures. Are there short cuts that can be made? Is there a language barrier? Perhaps staff did not understand how they should have used the information they were given.
- Confirm what level of supervision staff are given when undertaking their work activities – often staff can devise their own ways of working if there is no clear direction from management.
- Make sure management staff are clear on what is expected of them, and how they need to tackle non-compliance of procedures when staff flout the rules.
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