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Sharing is caring in a crisis

13 April 2020

The Fork Lift Truck Association is opening up its entire web resource in a bid to help British businesses deal with the current crisis and immediate aftermath.

We ask Tim Waples, CEO of the FLTA to explain what that means, and what prompted this decision.

What are you announcing?

TW: We are granting full access to all our safety and best-practice advice and resources, free of charge, to everyone who needs them until the end of 2020. It’s a huge volume of highly relevant and valuable material, normally available exclusively to our trade Association or Safe User Group members.

That sounds like quite a big gesture…

TW: It is! It’s been estimated that the resources available to FLTA members alone are worth more than £20,000.

What prompted you to do this?

TW: As the UK’s leading authority on materials handling, we have been inundated with coronavirus-related questions and requests for information. We’ve been sharing the answers on the FLTA website and via social media. The response has been so positive that we felt it our duty to do everything possible to help UK businesses survive the coming months.

How do people access the resources?

TW: It’s very straightforward. Visitors should go to the FLTA website: www.fork-truck.org.uk where they will be invited to sign in, either as truck user/member of the public, or as someone in the trade – typically a dealership, manufacturer or supplier of ancillary equipment. 

This will take them to the information and resources that are most appropriate to their needs.

What will they find there?  

TW: Members of the public will be able to utilise the same materials, tools and information as members of our Safe User Group. The material has been created specifically to give clear, concise and up-to-the-minute guidance to help busy managers ensure their sites are safe and productive.

Among the assets are: Safer Site Pro — a unique step-by-step site-safety programme with interactive hazard diagnostics; Technical Bulletins; Fact Sheets; a huge library of Risk Assessment documents; guidance on changes to legislation; bi-monthly Health & Safety newsletters and, for a limited period, use of the video Safely Working with Lift Trucks created by the FLTA’s Safety Partner Mentor FLT Training.

The only thing denied to them is the SUG Members certificate but they can of course join at a later date.

What’s there for forklift dealers?

TW: It’s a long list that includes a truly comprehensive HR toolkit and helpline advice; live reports on stolen trucks; dedicated Risk Assessments; hire agreements plus Ts&Cs; Site Survey forms; industry-specific monthly bulletins; Technical Bulletins; Health & Safety and Commercial Law helplines, and much more.

What trade visitors can’t access or use is the FLTA marque – that has to be earned!

You’ve received a lot of credit for the clarity and quantity of information you’ve been sharing about COVID-19.

TW: Thank you. Yes, I think everyone involved deserves a lot of credit. Although it’s been hectic and some of the source information complex we’ve stuck to our core approach by delivering answers and recommendations that are clear, expert and relevant. 

A particularly pleasing aspect is that it’s been a genuinely collaborative effort. Our colleagues at the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) have provided a lot of technical advice and by working together we have delivered unambiguous, authoritative guidance on a huge range of topics from washing down equipment to Thorough Examinations. 

Alongside us has been our Safety Partner, Mentor FLT Training, and the accrediting body AITT who, with the support of HSE, has provided much-needed clarification on training requirements in crisis conditions. 

Is there anything we can take from this crisis moving forward?

TW: I’m sure we’ll discover a lot about ourselves both as individuals and as a society, but there are two simple workplace lessons I hope we’ll learn from this terrible situation: social distancing and the abiding importance of training.  

Now that we are accustomed to keeping our distance it would be good to see that carried into the workplace. Too many incidents are caused by forklifts and pedestrians working too close together.  Simply increasing the gaps between staff and materials handling equipment would undoubtedly help reduce the number of injuries from trapping and falling loads.

As we move into a post-pandemic world, one lesson we must never forget is the importance of training, and with good reason. Each year 1300 people working on or alongside forklifts are killed or seriously injured. That’s five every working day. These injuries aren’t just bumps and scrapes, they’re fractures, crushes, de-gloving and amputations. 

New starters are particularly vulnerable. Research shows they are four times more likely to be involved in an accident, as a result of unfamiliarity with equipment, site layouts and procedures. 

Changing circumstances will mean managers may be overseeing new operators, as well as new or temporary staff who will be working on foot near forklifts. Everyone, including managers and supervisors, will need training to ensure they are fully aware of the risks forklifts present, so that they understand how to avoid danger and stay safe. 

It was telling that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), even in the worst of the crisis, was quick to confirm the continued requirement for basic forklift truck training.

How do you think existing members will feel?

TW: I’m sure some of those who’ve paid their subscriptions may well feel aggrieved, initially at least. I hope, though, that they will understand and accept why we’ve done it. The sooner the wider economy recovers, the better it will be for all of us, and sharing our wealth of knowledge and practical management tools is something we can immediately do to help businesses navigate their way through these difficult times. 

Our support for everyone who is involved in any way with materials handling equipment didn’t begin with the COVID-19 crisis and it certainly won’t end with it. We are constantly adding information and resources to help businesses operate more efficiently, effectively and, above all, safely. 

The free materials are available at www.fork-truck.org.uk. For further information email admin@fork-truck.org.uk.