The road transport industry now has by far the UK’s worst fork lift truck safety record, accounting for around a quarter of the overall UK injury toll, according to new figures revealed for National Fork Lift Safety Week.
To increase awareness of fork lift truck safety, independent authority the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) circulated a list of industries with the worst accident record, as well as the most improved.
They show a disturbing 237% increase in lift truck-related injuries to road freight employees since 2001/02 – meaning the industry has gone from having the UK’s fifth worst figure just seven years ago, to having more lift truck accidents than the next four industries combined today.
No fewer than 384 haulage employees were injured by fork lift trucks in 2009/10, compared to just 114 in 2001/02. The change contrasts starkly with a sustained national improvement in the fork lift safety record since the Safety Week campaign was introduced.
Conversely, the closely related Storage and Warehousing industry – previously the UK’s worst for fork lift safety – saw a 77% improvement, from 308 injuries to 71, over the same time scale.
The figures, extracted by the FLTA from RIDDOR reports published by the Health & Safety Executive, include injuries that required workers to take three days or longer off work, as well as hospitalisations and fatalities.
Fork lift truck injuries: the most dangerous industries…
Total injuries outright (2009/10) Per fork lift truck (estimated)
Freight Transport by Road (384) Freight Transport by Road
Food & Beverage Manufacturing (114) Glass, Ceramics & Concrete Manufacturing
Wholesale (86) Construction
Storage & Warehousing (71) Recycling
Food & Beverage Retail (59) Paper Manufacturing
Metal Products Manufacturing (53) Food & Beverage Manufacturing
The HSE believes non-fatal injuries are substantially under-reported, meaning the true accident toll could actually be far higher.
Industries surveyed saw an average 28% improvement in the safety record since 2001; several of these recorded some extremely impressive changes – notably the textile industry, which recorded no accidents whatsoever in 2009/10.
Fork lift truck injuries: the most improved major industries (% decrease since 2001/2)…
Textile & Carpet Manufacturing 100%
(0 accidents reported)
Electrical Product Manufacturing 79%
Storage & Warehousing 77%
Metal Production 76%
Motor Vehicles – Maintenance & Repair 76%
FLTA chief executive David Ellison says: “Although the economic downturn will obviously have had some bearing on materials handling activity levels, the wide variance between industries show that awareness and management attitude can have a far greater impact.
“Storage and Warehousing in particular once had the worst fork lift safety record of any industry, so it’s good to see them get to grips with the issue – long may the improvements continue.
“Sadly, there are obviously some other industries where the safety message has yet to be fully understood, and where workers face unacceptable risks. Fork lift truck injuries are frequently extremely serious – sometimes fatal – and managers have a legal and moral duty to ensure safe working systems, good equipment and proper training are in place.”
The Fork Lift Truck Association is the UK’s independent trade body for the fork lift truck industry. The largest body of its kind in Europe, it has been a leading authority on fork lift truck practices since 1972. Safety is a key theme throughout the Association’s work.
Since the Association introduced National Fork Lift Safety Week in 2008, fatal fork lift accidents have fallen by 69%, but fork lift trucks are still involved in more major workplace accidents than cars and HGVs combined: 369 hospitalisations last year across the UK.
Companies in the identified risk industries are also urgently advised to email the FLTA at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a free employee safety booklet.