An unprecedented number of delegates gained an exciting insight into new products and concepts to improve safety on materials handling sites at this year’s National Fork Lift Truck Safety Conference
The packed event, held at Warwick University Arts Centre, was sponsored by Calor Gas and organised by the Fork Lift Truck Association, the UK’s independent authority on fork lift trucks.
Carol Grainger, Workplace Transport Manager at the Health and Safety Executive, delivered a keynote address in line with the day’s theme: Understanding and Communicating the Risks. Carol’s well-illustrated analysis of workplace vehicle accidents over a ten year period revealed that counterbalance trucks are the main culprits and it is generally pedestrians, storage operatives and fork lift truck operators who are most frequently at risk.
A near-miss with a fork lift truck brought design engineer Luke Elmer to the Conference. As part of his research dissertation at University of West England, recent graduate Luke undertook an in-depth study of fork lift truck use in workplaces. Drawing conclusions from the study, he identified a need for a device which could warn pedestrians of fork lift trucks in close proximity. The result is an innovative, but simple, wristwatch-style solution: the Vibralert.
Later, Robert Brame of Gravloc UK demonstrated that looks can be deceiving as he presented Gravloc, an exciting new safety development. The device, scheduled for UK release in 2010, appears to be a simple 4 inch steel block. However, when fitted into a fork lift truck’s hydraulic circuit, it helps to protect the careless or unwary. Relying on gravity and hydraulic pressure to sense a movement, Gravloc intervenes when a truck becomes unstable by safely cutting out the pressure and preventing further adverse movement.
Returning to the Safety Conference this year was fork lift truck researcher Dr Uwe Weiner of IWS GmbH, who shared valuable insights into the new research and European vibration legislation. Uwe’s recent work in this field has led to the development of a semi-reactive seat: using results from a dedicated test rig, he clearly demonstrated how the new design would even out the shock forces to give the operator a more comfortable ride while reducing dangerous fatigue.
The conference also highlighted a number of important products already available in the marketplace now, that are providing safer and more productive operations. Paul Sercombe of Transmon Engineering Ltd introduced delegates to the Transmon Zone Speed Savure, while Dave Allison of Crown Lift Trucks highlighted the benefits of the Crown Infolink management information system. An afternoon session with Albert Swinton revealed the laser-guidance technology behind the Still FM-X reach truck, 2009 winner of the Fork Lift Truck Association Award for Safety.
The issue of safety when working with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) was tackled by Phil Anderson from conference sponsor Calor Gas Ltd. His masterclass discussed safe refuelling from both cylinders and tanks, including general hazards associated with LPG and a comparison with other fuels.
The conference drew to a close with a fascinating insight into the true story of 2009 Safe Site Award winner, London’s New Spitalfields Market. The site, owned and managed by the City of London Corporation, successfully reduced accidents by 77% in a single year, by introducing a number of common sense and practical measures. Manager Ian Vernon discussed the significant challenges posed by the site and – more importantly – how he and his team took such successful action.
FLTA chief executive Dave Ellison commented: “Conference delegates were indeed fortunate to hear this case study first hand. It provided a fitting end to what had been a most interesting and worthwhile day.
“Today’s conference has attracted delegates from all manner of companies, large and small, as well as representatives of the HSE and enforcing bodies. I am confident that every single one will have gained practical tips, ideas and approaches that will genuinely improve safety on sites throughout the UK and beyond.”