Hearing Draws Attention To Importance Of Forklift Safety

Forklifts play a pivotal role in the operations of a whole variety of companies. Without these useful vehicles, the day-to-day activities of many firms would quickly grind to a halt. From unloading and loading deliveries to placing items in and retrieving them from storage, forklifts are extremely helpful.

These days, there is no shortage of vehicles for bosses to choose from. Whether they are after diesel, electric or gas forklifts, managers can take their pick from the impressive selection available online. Businesses that are keen to bag a bargain may benefit from perusing the range of used gas forklifts on offer. Buying second-hand versions is a great way of saving money and, providing bosses ensure they purchase from reliable providers, they can rest assured they will benefit from top-quality trucks.

However, buying these products is only the first stage. It is also vital that managers make sure their personnel are sufficiently trained to use them. Employees who lack the knowledge and skills to drive these vehicles properly can pose a danger to both people and property. In addition, firms must take care to implement effective risk management procedures to minimise the danger of accidents.

Unfortunately, mistakes do sometimes occur. Highlighting this fact, a firm was recently in the dock over an incident that took place in August 2011. During a hearing at Preston Magistrates’ Court, it was revealed that a worker at a recycling plant was struck by a bale of plastic weighing 400 kilograms.

The 26-year-old employee was injured when the driver of a forklift lifted two bales from a stack in a warehouse by clamping hold of the bottom bale. The top bale was simply resting on top. As he moved the bales, the top one fell and struck the worker, who was sweeping up pieces of plastic at the time. Due to the force of the impact, he was thrown to the floor and hit his hands and head. He suffered a fracture to his spine and needed a back brace while it healed.

An investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the firm involved had failed to plan lifting operations properly.

The court was told that HSE guidelines advise against using forklifts to lift two heavy items when one is resting on top of the other.

After pleading guilty to a breach of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, the business involved was issued a fine of £10,000 and was ordered to pay £4,533 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the court hearing, HSE inspector Rohan Lye said: “The employee… was badly injured when he was struck by the 400-kilogram bale, but his injuries could easily have been fatal. The firm had a legal duty to make sure the work was properly planned, supervised and carried out safely but it failed to do any of this. What’s worse is that the forklift truck was regularly used to lift two bales at once, making it almost inevitable that someone would be injured.

“The company has since changed its working practices so that the forklift truck is now only used to lift one bale at a time. If that procedure had been in place at the time of the incident, then the worker’s injuries could have been avoided.”

As long as bosses adhere to the safety rules that are in place when using electric, diesel or gas forklift trucks, they should be able to avoid incidents like this.

About the Author – Anna Longdin is a freelance blogger who contributes to a number of materials handling sites, including Trucks Direct UK Limited.