As part of its commitment to raising safety standards across the entire materials handling industry, the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) is once again championing the cause of National Forklift Safety Day – and the onset of the campaign could not be timelier.
This year’s National Forklift Safety Day (NFSD) campaign takes place on Tuesday 9th June and the theme for this year’s campaign is Management is responsible for segregating pedestrians from Materials Handling equipment.
David Goss, BITA Technical Manager, said: “The importance of safety within the materials handling sector has been thrown into sharp focus this year in a way that could not have been imagined just six months ago. With the logistics industry working at full capacity to keep up with the supply demands from the essential services, so the need to ensure the safety of every worker in the sector has been paramount.
“A review of recent accident statistics across the industry highlights the need to focus attention on separating pedestrians and co-workers from active materials handlings equipment.”
Over the last three years, accident figures based on RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) show that 43% of incidents involving a forklift truck were impacts with a third person. Of these, around 65% were pedestrians engaged in activities unrelated to the immediate truck operation, 20% were co-workers/supervisors and 15% delivery drivers watching or assisting with loading/unloading their vehicle.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in its contribution to this year’s campaign, emphasises the importance of adequate segregation of forklift trucks and pedestrians within the workplace. It is also critically important that a thorough risk assessment is carried out where MHE movements take place to ensure the safety of all personnel within the workplace.
This year’s NFSD campaign focuses heavily on the vital safety function played by a correctly implemented risk assessment.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require all employers to carry out a suitable risk assessment to protect employees and others. To be effective, the assessment should be broken down into stages so that potential hazards are identified. Firstly, it needs to determine who could be at risk from active MHE – and how. Preventative steps then need to be implemented to eliminate the hazards. The findings should be recorded, and steps put in place to ensure the plan is flexible enough so that periodic reviews can be conducted to ensure it remains effective.
For the purposes of the risk assessment, a hazard is defined as anything that could potentially cause harm to someone. In a warehouse or factory environment where MHE is operating there could be a whole variety of potential hazards, therefore, the plan must be conducted by a qualified member of staff, who has experience of accurately assessing risk.
The risk assessment must also be specific to a site, its equipment and the loads being handled. It must also demonstrate that steps have been taken to eliminate risk.
To support this year’s campaign, BITA has commissioned a dedicated National Forklift Safety Day website (www.nationalforkliftsafetyday.co.ok) which contains a wealth of information to ensure firms can follow best practice and comply with all necessary safety requirements.
“All information is available free of charge as we look to spread the message to as wide an audience as possible. Which is why we are calling on all industries, not just those connected with the logistics sector, to actively support the campaign and to encourage their customers, suppliers, and other companies to do likewise,” said Mr Goss.
A special social media campaign is also running in conjunction with the event.
“Whilst the date of this year’s NFSD campaign is 9th June, the need to ensure good safety protocols applies at any time of year – especially so in the current climate,” added Mr Goss.
“BITA is proud to be delivering National Forklift Safety Day once again. The campaign provides an opportunity for everyone to promote a safer materials handling industry and to propagate best practice across the sector. We hope the entire industry will unite behind the cause and spread the word as wide as possible.”