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Are you putting your team at risk?

Accident Investigation

A carpet sample book manufacturer in Wigan has been fined £20,000 after two workers were seriously injured when a forklift crashed into a skip.

  • Workers were using a forklift to raise bins and pedestrians standing either side manually tipped them into a skip.
  • A bin became trapped between the forks and the skip.
  • The driver climbed onto the skip and asked another employee to reverse the truck.
  • After reversing, the truck moved forward and crashed into the skip, causing the worker to fall.
  • An employee standing at the side of the truck was impaled by a fork.

The HSE found that the company did not take effective measures to ensure the health and safety of employees. There were no safe systems of work and employees had not been sufficiently trained. Tipping bins into skips was normal working practice for the company, despite the fact that employees were placed at significant risk. The company pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Read the full story here.

Look after your workforce

Your staff are your most important asset. It is a company’s responsibility to ensure that all staff on site are properly trained to carry out their tasks using equipment in a correct and safe manner. All operations using lifting equipment must be planned in advance using risk assessments and Safe Systems of Work.

As we saw with the accident above, misusing equipment and not being aware of the hazards it presents can have severe consequences.

  • Training: ensure that all staff have received 3 levels of training: basic, familiarisation and job specific. This will ensure that they understand how to confidently and safely operate equipment in the context of their site.
  • Pedestrian segregation: where possible, pedestrians and lift trucks must be physically separated. If this is not an option, safe distances should be established and maintained. Pedestrians should not be helping to manually unload lift trucks, or try to stabilise loads, as this increases the risk of them being hit by a falling load or the truck itself.
  • Awareness: Importantly, all staff on site, whether they work with lift trucks or alongside them, must be aware of the hazards and best practice procedures. Hold regular health and safety talks, engage with staff, and review procedures over time to ensure they are still fit for purpose.

What can you do?

As a SUG member, you have access to the UKMHA’s handy Safe Site Checklist. It helps you identify areas of risk in the workplace to see what can be improved.

Got a few minutes spare? Complete a quick safety quiz with our self-assessment checklist and gain a percentage score on how safe your site is.

For even more comprehensive action, check out Safer Site Pro. The step-by-step practical guide offers resources and tips to enhance on-site safety and encourage best practice. SUG members can find it here.  

In the UKMHA online store, you’ll also find an excellent selection of handbooks and DVDs on the safe operation of forklift and warehouse trucks

You and the law

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 outlines the general duties of employers to their employees:

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 outlines the general duties of employers to their employees:

“It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) state that work equipment must be suitable for the purpose it is used for. Operators, supervisors and managers must also have received adequate training for the purposes of health and safety, including having a knowledge of the risk of using the equipment.

These pieces of legislation are included in the Approved Code of Practice for fork truck operations — Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training and safe use. (L117). Download this now, for free, from the HSE.

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