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Get with the programme

23 October 2014

Peter Harvey, Chief Executive of the Fork Lift Truck Association, outlines the Safer Site Programme – its most ambitious safety initiative yet.

You may not realise it, but if you work with or alongside fork lift trucks, you’re in close contact with the most dangerous piece of workplace transport equipment in the UK.

They’re responsible for more than 800 accidents a year in this country and these aren’t just knocks and scrapes; because of the weight and momentum of a fork lift truck, these accidents are often serious and life-changing. Bones are crushed, fractured and shattered… Limbs routinely amputated.

Leading the way to a Safer Site
In September, at the National Fork Lift Safety Conference at Warwick University, we launched our most ambitious safety initiative yet: the Safer Site Programme, an ongoing step-by-step safety programme designed specifically for fork lift truck users that any company – regardless of size – can implement.

We’ve worked closely with representatives from the HSE and other leading bodies and experts within the materials handling industry to produce a programme that will make a difference to each and every company operating fork lift trucks.

The idea is simple: each month on the FLTA website the Association will publish a series of practical steps you need to take to move forward through the programme.

Every step of the way you will be supported with free fact sheets, posters and safety resources, as well as signposts to the right places for further guidance and important safety advice.

Getting Informed
The "Fork Lift Safety” section of the FLTA website contains all you need to get started with this first and most important step of the programme. But before you do, it’s worth recognising why it is so important.

You’re going on a journey. But to complete it successfully you will require a champion: someone who is prepared to take the lead and, in this case, guide the way to a safer future on site.

This may be you… or it may be a colleague. But regardless, it should be someone who is committed to positively changing fork lift operations at your site.

And this is perhaps the most important part of the process. Identifying the individual who will unswervingly lead the way – communicating the safety message across the company and motivating people out of their comfort zones and bad habits.

The importance of good supervision in this context – both morally and legally – is paramount, and it is vital that this safety champion is equipped with the training and background to competently identify and assess hazards, as well as the confidence to act when bad practice occurs.

The key to doing this is becoming familiar with the important issues affecting fork lift truck safety.

For managers and supervisors looking for in-depth knowledge, companies such as Mentor FLT Training offer specialist courses aimed at developing competence and confidence in those overseeing fork lift truck operations.

In addition, there’s our industry’s "Bible” – L117 – which outlines the main legal requirements regulating the use of industrial trucks and, crucially, contains the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP). It also incorporates some of the information contained in HSG6 "Safety in Working with Lift Trucks”, fully replacing it.

By following the ACOP, you can be assured that you are in line with the 10 pieces of legislation it embodies.

L117 goes far beyond simple risk assessments and basic training by listing – and clearly explaining – what regulations mean, in practice, across a range of issues. For example:

  • Legal responsibilities of companies, managers and employees
  • Choosing and maintaining equipment
  • Thorough examination
  • Workplace layout
  • Fumes, fuels and battery acid
  • Dealing with agency workers

...and many other subjects besides.

Head to the FLTA website
At the FLTA website, www.fork-truck.org.uk, you will find more detailed information relating to this first step – including further publications and legislation.

And, if you are committed to improving safety, I would also ask that companies consider membership of the FLTA’s Safe User Group.

Developed especially for fork truck users, it provides privileged access to legislation guidelines, advice on regulations, specialist publications, health and safety updates, Technical Bulletins, safety alerts, etc., as well as an independent telephone helpline.

I would urge that every person reading this, and every company whose work involves fork lift trucks, gets involved with the Safer Site Programme and takes this simple first step for their colleagues’ benefit, and their own. If you want to know how to save a life, now or in the future, this is it.

To find out more about the FLTA’s Safer Site Programme, please visit fork-truck.org.uk, call 01635 277577 or email peter@fork-truck.org.uk today.

FLTA Awards
Now in its 21st anniversary year, the FLTA's Awards for Excellence is the biggest and most prestigious annual event in the Materials Handling industry calendar bar none, and will take place on Saturday, 28th February, 2015 at The International Centre in Shropshire.

Launched to encourage and reward examples of excellence throughout the fork lift truck industry and beyond, the Awards have a truly international appeal with Sponsors and winners flying in from Europe and the Far East for the Oscars-style ceremony.

Perhaps the most hotly anticipated of the night's Awards are those given to the overall champions in the four main product categories: Environment, Ergonomics, Safety and Innovation.

Handling & Storage Solutions magazine is proud to be the media partner for the FLTA Awards.