Industrial vehicles, such as forklifts, are more difficult to operate than many think. Driving vehicles in the industrial workplace seems like a simple job, but most are unaware of the dangers that drivers are at risk of when operating a vehicle.
Forklifts, albeit some of the smallest, can be one of the most dangerous pieces of industrial workplace vehicles. According to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) website, the Provision of the Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, it is the law to ensure all staff members have completed FULL forklift training before operating one.
Training is also mandatory, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This is to ensure that employees are safe at work. The HSE suggest that operator training should always include three stages:
- Basic training. The basic skills and knowledge required to operate a forklift truck safely and efficiently.
- Specific job training. Knowledge and understanding of the operating principles of the lift truck that is to be used – and how it will be used in that particular workplace.
- Familiarisation training. Applying what has been learnt, under normal working conditions and on the job.
New staff must also be trained with that workplace’s forklifts – even if they have been trained in a previous job.
What are the risks from forklifts?
Forklifts are one of the main causes of many industrial workplace injuries and deaths each year. The British Safety Council states that:
‘Around 1,300 UK employees are hospitalised each year with serious injuries following forklift accidents, and from those, pedestrians are particularly at risk – accounting for 57% of those injured or killed in forklift accidents’.
These injuries and fatalities are usually because of a lack of appropriate forklift training.
Why are forklifts so dangerous?
There are a few reasons why forklifts cause accidents. These are:
Weight. Forklifts can weigh almost 4 tonnes. Heavy weight can make it very difficult to manoeuvre.
Abnormal loads. Forklifts are front loaders, therefore they tend to be heavier in the rear to compensate for this. Drivers also sit in the rear of the vehicle, making them hard to control.
Obstructed view. As forklifts are loaded from the front, the driver’s view can be blocked, leading to the forklifts overturning. If the driver cannot see something in their path, they are likely to hit it.
Speed. Although they are not the fastest of vehicles, forklifts can reach around 18mph, which is fairly quick for a vehicle that is used most often inside. They can be very difficult to stop as they only have front brakes. This can be very tricky for untrained drivers – and very dangerous for nearby pedestrians.
How important is training?
Stuart Taylor, managing director of the UK training organisation, Mentor FLT Training, explains: “It is essential that supervisors have the relevant training to be able to recognise safe and unsafe practices.
“Operator training is vital, but if your managers and supervisors haven’t got the skills and knowledge to ensure best practice is being followed, there’s a dangerous flaw in your operations.
“Proper training can save lives, but it’s no good if only part of your workforce has received training — everyone needs to be on the same page… and that includes colleagues working alongside forklift trucks.”
Employers may have their own in-house training schemes – which should have similar content to the other more formal training courses that are available. Some may have training courses delivered by an accredited training provider.
As with all vehicles, we rely on humans to ensure the safety of the vehicles and pedestrians. Human errors are inevitable; therefore having other systems in place can ensure that the risk of pedestrian accidents is significantly reduced.
ZoneSafe offer people and asset protection with its range of proximity warning and alert systems. Using innovative identification and detection technologies, ZoneSafe significantly reduces the risk of accidents, injury and damage to people and assets on work sites.
For more information, please visit www.zonesafe.net