According to the Irish Health and Safety Authority, Forklift Trucks (FLTs) are among the most dangerous of all vehicle types operated in the workplace.
It is thought that in many cases of workplace injury involving Forklift Trucks, there may have been complacency about the dangers of operating Forklift Trucks.
Because they are so commonly used in warehouses, workshops and factories, it is easy to ‘get used to’ the movement of FLTs around a busy area and for employers and employees to ‘let their guard down’ in relation to safe practices around Forklifts.
Vehicle Accidents in the Workplace – The Statistics:
Sadly, incidents involving Forklift Trucks are often very serious and sometimes even fatal.
In warehouses and on factory floors etc, the most common accidents involve pedestrians being struck by moving Forklifts, or by a load falling from a truck or indeed the overturn of the FLT.
In fact between 2003 and 2012 almost half of the 573 reported workplace related deaths were vehicle related. The transport and storage sector reports up to 1000 injuries per year which equates to 100 lost working days.
What the law requires?
If you use vehicles for work related purposes, whether you own, lease, hire or borrow, you must make sure that it is safe for use and fit for purpose.
A vehicle is classed as a place of work and as such must be fit and safe for work purposes. It must be maintained and without risk to workers health and safety.
In addition, employers must make sure drivers are familiar with the vehicle and they have been given appropriate training and instruction.
Safety Measures and Tips
Below are our top tips for the safe operation of Forklift Trucks:
- Always wear appropriate protective clothing – hardhat, protective footwear and high visibility clothing are recommended as a minimum.
- Always carry out a pre-shift check of the forklift
- Always report defects to the supervisor immediately
- Always make sure your path is free of obstructions
- Always travel with forks lowered but free from the ground
- Never operate a forklift unless you are trained and competent to do so
- Never use forklift equipment that you know is not working properly
- Never operate controls from outside the cab unless the forklift is specifically designed to do so.
- Never stand near the controls to reach the load or anything outside the cab
- Never start or stop suddenly if it can be avoided.