The Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) conducts a month long safety awareness campaign every September. This year, the safety campaign is known as Safetember. It focuses on the message that “You don’t walk away from a fork lift accident”.
There are key reasons why fork lifts are considered to be a serious workplace hazard. They can weigh up to 9 tons, travel up to 18 mph and are capable of lifting heavy loads to height. There are a wide range of fork lifts available in the market. Counterbalance trucks, sideloader, reach trucks, telescopic handler, just to name a few. Each type is designed to carry out specific tasks. Using the wrong fork lift could have serious consequences on the safety of the operator or others nearby.
According to the FLTA, over 1,300 fork lift accidents takes place in a year. Recently a firm was fined £450,000 after the death of a young employee was crushed by the fork lift he was driving. It was found that he was not correctly trained by the company.
Another company was fined around £10,000 after a 58 year old employee suffered serious injuries. Fatal accidents or serious injuries mentioned were caused by the vehicle overturning, which could have been easily avoided.
A fork lift overturning is the most common incident, accounting for 24% of all accidents. The HSE also states that “vehicle overturns cause nearly a fifth of all deaths in vehicles at work accidents”.
What Should Be Done to Prevent Fork lift Accidents?
Organisations should conduct workplace risk assessments to identify risks and provide adequate training where necessary. There are many reasons why a fork lift could overturn, such as:
- Travelling on steep slopes.
- Slippery surfaces such as oil or grease patches, ice or even just water
- Soft or uneven ground
- Going over kerbs, steps or other edges at high speeds
- Overloaded or unevenly loaded
5 Ways to Prevent a Fork Lift Overturning
Forklift overturns can be avoided if the right precautions are followed. Here are 5 ways a fork lift overturning can be prevented:
- Speed guidelines. Always follow the speed restrictions provided by the employer or the vehicle manufacturer
- Under trained staff. Restrict the use of fork lifts to staff members who have been adequately trained and authorised operators.
- Appropriate load. Take multiple trips instead of overloading the vehicle. Keep the load low to the ground and only raise it enough to clear the floor surface. Never raise or lower the load while you’re moving.
- Suitable surface. make sure to only drive the vehicle over surfaces they are designed for. Only use pre-planned suitable routes that avoids steep slopes, uneven or slippery surfaces.
- Seatbelts or restraints. Always wear a seat-belt or restraints fitted within the fork lift.
The FLTA notes that 90% of operators do not wear seat-belts when operating a fork lift. Seat-belts serve as an important purpose of preventing the driver from trying to jump off an overturning vehicle.
In the event of an overturn, the driver should always brace themselves. Hold on firmly to a secure part inside the cab while leaning the opposite direction of the overturn.
Raising the Alarm
If your forklift operators work alone for any period of time, carrying a personal alarm is advisable. This will enable the user to call for help in the event of an accident. A device fitted with a ‘man-down’ alarm will automatically call for help if it detects a crash or overturning. It’s especially useful if the driver is knocked unconscious and is unable to raise an alarm by themselves.
If you would like to read more on the safe use of fork lifts visit the FLTA website. Please contact our sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 118 8247 to request a demonstration of the MicroGuard device and see how it could help protect the safety of your lone working employees.