To buck the trend of leading with negative messaging, as is the case with the majority of health and safety media, let’s firstly celebrate the fact that there’s a long-term downward trend across the rate of fatal injuries per 100,00 workers; figures that have remained reasonably stable over the past 5 years or so. Compared to the mid-1980’s, when fatalities sat at a far greater level, advances in health and safety practices, personal protective equipment and medical science have all played their role in stamping down the figures.
Injuries and sadly, fatalities, will always lurk around construction, agriculture, manufacturing, transport and storage, and waste management working environments by the very hazardous nature of these industries. With forklifts being accountable for 25% of all transport-related workplace injuries, every single working day, five lives are changed by injuries relating to accidents involving forklift trucks, according to the HSE. There are reputed to be over 8,000 reported accidents involving the use of forklift trucks in the UK each year with 1,300 workers being hospitalised and some of these unfortunately result in fatalities.
Unlike other workplace injury rates, the number of forklift injuries is actually on the rise. So with 5 UK workers each and every day falling foul to life-changing injuries that include complex fractures, dislocations, de-glovings and amputations, what measures can employers and employees alike take to counter this heightening workplace hazard?
Firstly, site managers must request proof that forklift operatives possess their forklift licenses and all relevant, associated training. If forklift operatives are in training, they are permitted to operate a forklift without a license until they are competent enough to be assesses. However, they must be within sight and sound of a licensed operator at all times. For more information on forklift training and licenses click here.
All of the areas that forklifts operate in must be flat, remain clear from obstructions and be marked clearly. Aisles must be wide enough and with adequate headroom and all routes must be kept free from sharp bends and where possible, a one-way system introduced. Forklift areas must be kept free from pedestrians, or if this is not possible, adequate signage and warning notices must be in place.
As well as wearing seatbelts and restraints, operators must wear adequate personal protective equipment, including high visibility jackets, hard hats, eye and ear defenders and adequate safety footwear. Because forklift operators run the risk of objects falling onto their toes, at the every least they should wear safety footwear that conforms to EN ISO20345:2011. This means a safety shoe or boot that protects the toes to a force of 200 joules and with an oil-resistant sole. However, it is recommended that operators wear more adequate S3 safety boots designed especially for driving at work, like the Rock Fall TC340 Dakota. As well as toe protection to 200 joules, Rock Fall Dakota safety boots feature midsole protection, SRC slip-resistance for non-slip pedal operation and a special v-collar design to allow for unhindered pedal operation.
Don’t monkey around with forklifts, speak to Gorilla Safety to discuss all of the risks facing your workforce.