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Safe forklift operation – part 2

Tim Waples Chief Executive FLTA on forklift safety
Tim Waples, Chief Executive of the FLTA

The second of a two-part series, Tim Waples, Chief Executive of the FLTA, highlights important steps companies can take to ensure site and truck safety.

SITE SAFETY 

There are three main components of a safe site:

Design
A site can be designed to minimise risk. This is easiest to achieve with a new building or complex. However, reviewing the risks and redesigning where possible can improve even an old site. 

Some of the main points to consider are:

  • Pedestrian segregation, with a complete ban on non-essential personnel in areas where forklift trucks operate. Provide clear, well-signed crossing points if needed.
  • Provide one-way routes where possible. Movement aisles should be sufficiently wide and free of obstacles.
  • Consider speed limits and signs. Provide other signs as needed and consider the use of wall or rack-mounted mirrors to enhance visibility.
  • Minimise the need for reversing.
  • Minimise the use of ramps and other gradients.
  • Provide high levels of lighting, and good ventilation if diesel or gas trucks are in use.
  • Pay particular attention to interfaces such as lorry docking areas.
  • Provide space for the parking and maintenance of forklift trucks and for the charging of battery-operated equipment.

Maintenance

Maintenance affects safety and is everyone’s responsibility. 

Some key advice is:

  • Keep the whole area clear of rubbish and any operating debris, such as packing material and broken pallets.
  • Keep surfaces clean and free of oil, grease and other substances, and in good condition.
  • Repair cracks and potholes as they occur.
  • Maintain lights, signs, barriers and other safety features.

Attitude

Demand a good attitude to safety across the site. Never just assume that safe practices will be followed, and don’t get complacent. Schedule routine checks. 

In particular:

  • Enforce speed limits and routes.
  • Provide site familiarisation training for new employees and agency operators.
  • Discuss site safety issues as part of regular Health and Safety meetings.
  • Involve everyone in site safety.

TRUCK SAFETY 

Safe forklift operation part 2Make sure the task and location are properly assessed before a forklift truck is bought or hired. There are many types of forklift truck available and you need the correct one for the job. Seek professional advice.

If the task and/or location changes, consider whether you need to change the truck. Make sure it still meets your requirements and is safe for the job.

Remember:

  • Warehouse equipment — such as reach trucks, stackers, order pickers and pallet trucks — is not designed for outdoor use or on rough, unstable surfaces.
  • Counterbalance trucks are designed for outdoor use, but still on generally smooth, sound and level surfaces. 
  • Uneven, rough and slippery surfaces will require an all-terrain truck, and this must be used with skill and caution.
  • You may need different trucks to perform various functions safely.

A truck doesn’t need every modern development to be safe, but technology does move on — not least in the fork truck industry. Keep up-to-date with developments. If you have a particular problem, check and see if there may be a potential new solution. 

For example:

  • There are different ways in which the speed of a forklift truck can be controlled, and this can be zoned for different parts of the site.
  • There are trucks designed to give greater visibility, and these can be enhanced by the use of cameras.
  • There are trucks with revolving cabs to reduce the strain of excessive reversing.

Attachments can enhance safety but must be selected with professional advice and the truck must have a different rating plate for every attachment used.

Safety never stops

Safe forklift operation part 2As we have seen, there are some key areas that companies can address to ensure safe forklift operation on site, and everyone has a role to play. Consistency and vigilance are vital. By adhering to best practice and taking all the necessary precautions and measures, workplaces across the vehicle dismantling and recycling industry will become safer environments for their workforces.

About the FLTA

The FLTA is the UK’s leading authority on forklift trucks. It exists to maintain and raise standards within the materials handling industry. The Association provides information and technical support to members, promotes best practice throughout the industry, and protects the interests of lift truck users. 

Join the Safe User Group

Created by the FLTA, the Safe User Group offers expert advice, safety resources, updates on legislation and much more to support companies in improving safety on site. For more information on joining the Safe User Group, visit: www.fork-truck.org.uk

See: Safe forklift operation – part 1 

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.