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1st February 2019

Got a Fork Lift Truck On Site? – Best Read On Then…

Fork Lift Truck Health and Safety

What’s Happened?

At the back end of last year, the HSE prosecuted several companies – all of which failed to manage the risk of forklift trucks (FLTs) on their sites. We take a look at what kind of mistakes were made, and how to avoid falling foul of HSE requirements when operating FLTs.

First Case – The Untrained Driver

An untrained worker was trapped when his forklift truck (FLT) overturned. He sustained internal injuries and now suffers from chronic pain and mobility issues. His employer was prosecuted in November 2018. In addition to the operator not receiving appropriate training, he was not wearing a seatbelt and there was inadequate supervision. The firm was ordered to pay in excess of £60,000 for the safety breaches.

The HSE publish a specific Approved Code of Practice on Fork Lift Truck Training (Rider Operated Lift-Trucks) L117 – the code states that FLT Operators must receive three stages of training:

  • Basic training. The skills and knowledge required to operate a truck safely and efficiently.
  • Specific job training. How it will be used in the workplace.
  • Familiarisation training. Applying what has been learned under normal working conditions on the job.

In order to provide evidence of the above, it is key that employers keep a record of all stages of training and carry out a formal authorisation and monitoring of drivers (FYI – there is no such thing as a forklift truck licence!)

It’s important that employers restrict driving FLT’s to those who are trained and authorised. Make all managers and supervisors responsible for enforcing your rules and ensure that where they are breached, disciplinary procedures are followed and recorded.

Second Case – Pedestrians and Fork Lifts Don’t Mix

The second case concerned an accident to a worker who was carrying out checks in the holding bay at a manufacturing site. The employee suffered a fractured leg when he was struck by an FLT manoeuvring in the area. An HSE investigation found that the company had not assessed the risk of pedestrians and transport operating side by side in the holding bay. In court, the company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £100,000.

To comply with the law you need to segregate pedestrians and FLTs so far as it is reasonable to do so. This means creating separate routes and using barriers where feasible to provide impact protection. If barriers would not work or create additional danger, as an absolute minimum you need to clearly demark the floor with a walkway and ensure it is used as well as issuing high visibility clothing to staff.

Although it should not be your only risk control measure, it’s also a good idea to implement a minimum space rule, i.e. a pedestrian is not allowed within two metres of an FLT which has a driver in its seat, and no driver may operate an FLT if a pedestrian is within two metres of the vehicle

Third Case – Unstable Load

In the third prosecution a driver suffered serious injuries while his vehicle was being loaded. The pallet being put on his lorry was carrying 920kg of cardboard packaging when it fell from the forks and landed on him. HSE Inspectors discovered that there wasn’t a safe waiting area for the drivers, insufficient segregation of pedestrians and vehicles and various were other weaknesses in the control of vehicle movements. The company pleaded guilty to two safety charges and was ordered to pay fines and costs of nearly £90,000.

As highlighted in the above recent cases, there is always a need to undertake a suitable and sufficient workplace transport risk assessment whenever using FLT’s on site. If you are a client and have concerns regarding vehicle movement on your premises or need assistance with completing a risk assessment then call our advice line today on 0845 4591724.


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