Forklift trucks (FLTs) are familiar vehicles in many London businesses and are often considered essential. However, they are involved in a large percentage of accidents in workplaces. Many of these accidents are due to operators not having enough forklift training. Other reasons include unsuitable premises, poor layout and design of areas where forklift trucks are used, and poor truck maintenance. Following the steps below will help to control the risks when using FLTs in your premises.
Step 1 – Choosing Operators
The people appointed should be physically capable and have shown themselves to have a reliable and mature attitude to their work, and the ability to do the job responsibly. Any employee who is unfit through alcohol or drugs should not be allowed to use a forklift.
Step 2 – Training
The training should be carried out by a competent instructor (for example, an accredited trainer) and always include three stages.
Basic training forklift training – the basic skills and knowledge needed to use FLTs safely (the course can last up to five days).
Specific job training – knowledge of the workplace and experience of any special needs and handling attachments (these stages may be combined but should always be off the forklift jobs).
Familiarisation training – on-the-job training under close supervision.
Step 3 – Further Training
Regularly reassess all operators to make sure that they continue to use lift trucks safely and to identify a need for refresher training, particularly for those operators who have not used trucks for some time or for those who only use them occasionally. It is essential that supervisors of operators have enough training to recognise unsafe practices, even if they don’t drive trucks themselves. You should keep records of all the training given to individuals, including conversion and refresher training, and of their performance in associated tests.
Step 4 – Safe Working Load (SWL)
Forklift drivers must be aware of the SWL of the truck and make sure they do not go over. Attachments such as clamps and cages will reduce the SWL of the FLT. You should contact an authorised dealer for advice about the reduced SWL. The operator should be given extra training on using these attachments.
Step 5 – Forklift Maintenance
You should follow the manufacturer’s or authorised supplier’s instructions on inspecting, maintaining and servicing FLTs. Develop a system for reporting faults and for making sure that repair work is carried out. Develop a planned routine forklift maintenance system including:
Daily checks of tyres, brakes and so on by the driver at the beginning of each shift;
Forklift trucks in constant use, more in-depth weekly checks (written reports should be made and kept);
Thorough examinations by a competent person every twelve months or in line with regular thorough examination scheme; and
Checks by an engineer following an accident, major repair or modification. The engineer should issue a certificate confirming that the FLT is safe to use.