The UK Material Handling Association (UKMHA), the trade body representing all aspects of the UK’s material handling industry, has highlighted the importance of proper forklift maintenance and safety procedures following a fatal industrial accident.

The warning comes after the Health & Safety Executive successfully prosecuted the owners of a fencing business following an accident at their premises in which an employee died after being crushed by falling timber.

The accident occurred at PA Fencing Ltd in Bristol in 2017. The deceased, Roderick McKenzie Hopes, was working in a yard at the company’s premises when a telehandler being used to move timber exceeded its rated capacity and tipped over. In doing so, the truck toppled onto stacked timber which fell onto Mr Hopes resulting in his death.

North Somerset Magistrates Court was told earlier this month (September) that an investigation by HSE inspectors had found the telehandler was faulty and that the safety device to ensure lift heights were not exceeded was inoperative and that maintenance had failed to identify this. In addition, the investigation found that the truck operator had not received full training in how to use the truck and that the machine was regularly used to lift unsafe loads.

The HSE said the yard supervisor did not know the machine’s safe limits and that the yard had not been laid out to allow the safe stacking of the timber.

David Goss, Technical Director, UKMHA said: “This sad case has highlighted a catalogue of errors that may have been avoided had the legally-required Thorough Examination been carried out.”

The importance of Thorough Examination by an accredited provider has received a strong focus this year, being the theme of National Forklift Safety Day. Previous campaigns have also identified the importance of safely segregating workers from material handling equipment and the proper training of lift truck operators.

For more information on Thorough Examination and National Forklift Safety Day, visit nationalforkliftsafetyday.co.uk

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