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A guide to managing a forklift

08 January 2015

As an employer you have a legal responsibility for ensuring the health and safety of your employees. Toyota Material Handling UK outlines the key issues you should consider to protect employees from the dangers of forklift trucks.

There are more than 800 accidents a year in the UK that involve forklift trucks and in the worst scenario it can cause death or life changing injuries. Even when an incident does not cause a personal injury, it can cause damage to trucks, infrastructure and goods, which means reduced productivity and cost. So it is important that you do everything you can to protect the people who operate forklifts or work alongside them. 


Companies who operate material handling equipment should focus on three key areas to be safe and efficient; Product, Process and People.


Product – suitability for use

Forklifts should be suitable for the task, but also take into account the working conditions and health and safety risks. (The HSE said poor choice of truck for the job was a key factor in this forklift related death - http://bit.ly/1tJGOZz - Ed)


When choosing new or used equipment make sure you receive a full site survey from the supplier to identify the best options for your business. If you are buying new equipment, check it conforms to the requirements of European Community law; it must be CE marked and come with a Declaration of Conformity. 


Having a safe product at acquisition is only part of your responsibility. You also need to have the right processes and correctly trained people to keep the operation safe and efficient.




Process – keeping your truck in a safe condition

Both managers and operators need to work together to ensure the truck and the site in which it operates remain safe.  


The best way to keep your truck operating safely and reliably is to have a regular service and maintenance schedule. Your trucks need to be inspected in line with the number of hours and working environment.


If you own or operate a forklift truck, you are required by law to make sure it meets safety requirements. Some insurance companies will carry out an inspection of your equipment, but this may be not cover both LOLER98 and PUWER98. A Thorough Examination accredited by the CFTS meets and exceeds your obligations under LOLER 98 and PUWER 98. For more information visit www.toyotathoroughexamination.co.uk 


"Put a policy in place that prohibits the use of mobile phones whilst operating a forklift truck and enforce it.”


Make sure checks are carried out at the start of each day / shift to ensure that the truck is in a safe condition to operate.


This can be automated with a system on the truck. But if you don’t have this, you can still provide your operators with a checklist – Toyota has templates available at www.toyota-forklifts.co.uk. Have a process for to make sure defects to be reported and the truck is not used until they are resolved. 


People – creating a culture of safety

Operators training can help make your operation safer and help your operators work more efficiently. As an employer you have a responsibility to ensure that employees have adequate training on all necessary equipment. Make sure you have a structured training programme that covers all areas of driver and site safety.


It is an employers’ responsibility to provide adequate and safe personal protective equipment (PPE), not only for your operators but also people who work around materials handling equipment.


Warehouse environments are filled with dangers including pedestrians, vehicles and blind corners. There are no defined maximum speed limits for forklifts, as a safe speed for one operation, may not be for another. Carry out a risk assessment on your operation to set a maximum speed and make sure this is communicated to your team. 


There are no regulations that prohibit using a handheld device while operating a forklift truck, unless you are driving on a public road. Put a policy in place that prohibits the use of mobile phones whilst operating a forklift truck and enforce it.


As a leader within a business there are a lot of areas you need to consider, but safety on site is the responsibility of everybody and it starts with good communication.


Carry out regular risk assessments on your operation and identify areas for improvement. Make sure both operators and pedestrians follow the site safety rules – make sure they are clearly visible throughout the site. 


Free safety guides

Toyota’s new guide to operating a forklift truck will be launched in January 2015, and free copies can be requested at www.toyota-forklifts.co.uk along with other free safety resources including; manual handling, daily checklists and safety posters. 



 
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