Three years ago the Fork Lift Truck Association introduced National Fork Lift Safety Week, in a bid to reduce the number of British fork lift truck accidents attributable to human error – whether through complacency or a lack of basic safety procedures.

Since then we have seen a steady decline in the number of accidents involving fork lift trucks and – as an Association – we are determined to reduce them further. There is certainly no room for complacency here.

The operation of fork lift trucks remains the single biggest factor in industrial transport accidents. Newly released HSE statistics show that 369 serious accidents – resulting in amputations, fractures and other injuries needing a hospital stay – were recorded in 2009/2010.

That’s one per day… and, in many of these cases, better training provision would have significantly reduced the accident risk. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Industry-wide research from Skills for Logistics (Dec. 2010) indicates that more than half of all employees working with and alongside fork lift trucks are not sufficiently trained to do so.

Trainers believe budget cuts, staff shortages and a lack of management awareness regarding the duty to train are behind this dangerous shortfall. Whatever the causes may be, by neglecting to ensure appropriate training levels, employers are placing lives, limbs and businesses at risk.

A tough lesson

Take the case of a Merseyside welder charged with moving a welding kit – who decided to use a fork lift truck. The shipyard worker leaned out while attempting to reverse and became trapped between the fork lift cab and a steel girder. The 62-year-old suffered multiple injuries and died four days after the accident.

During the inquest that followed, jurors heard how the welder had never received training on the operation of a fork lift truck. The shipyard’s Health and Safety Manager admitted that the system of supervision in place was not adequate, with “ad hoc” training records and an in-house training programme at an “embryonic stage”.

Since his death, the company has worked with HSE to make improvements. More staff had been trained to operate fork lift trucks, and stickers were placed on every piece of equipment warning that it should only be used by authorised staff. The company also introduced a sign-in procedure for keys and posted a list of trained operators on every noticeboard.

Talk to your local fork lift truck dealer for full guidance on training It’s vital to work with a company whose advice you trust. Companies bearing the FLTA Marque have access to the latest best practice guidance and operate to a strict Code of Practice, ensuring high standards of safety and service.


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