What is the impact of a forklift truck accident?

Acorn Safety Services - National Forklift Day

Today is National Forklift Safety Day, a day that aims to raise awareness of the dangers of forklift trucks and the importance of forklift training.

Kevin Burt, who joined Acorn Safety Services in April as our new Health and Safety Manager, has worked in health and safety roles for more than 30 years. During that time, he has seen the impact that forklift accidents can have on individuals, companies, families and colleagues.

He talks about this in our latest blog…

Unfortunately, during my 30 plus years working in health and safety, I have seen the aftermath of several forklift truck accidents. I feel that, generally speaking, many people view forklifts in the same vein as bumper cars and think if you were to get hit by one it would be relatively harmless. That is not the case. Forklift trucks can kill.

Not long after I qualified, I was called out to an accident. A forklift truck was loading onto or unloading from a vehicle and the vehicle moved, causing the forklift to drop and the driver damaged his back.

Later, a job in Glasgow saw an accident happen after a mobile loading ramp was not properly attached to a trailer, this resulted in a forklift operator dropping 4ft and landing between the ramp and trailer, seriously injuring his back. I have also been called in after forklifts have hit bridges.

Back in the noughties, I was hired by a logistics company after a member of staff had suffered a serious injury after being hit by a 2.5 tonne forklift truck. The lady in question crossed the loading bay of the warehouse to hand in some paperwork at the end of her shift. As she did so, a forklift was reversing and ran over her leg twice. Her injuries were so severe she had to have her leg amputated below the knee. The company had multiple sites and wanted to ensure the same thing couldn’t happen again, so I was brought in to create a pedestrian walkway around the loading bays that still gave people access between the loading bays and racking. I created different rules for different sites. Some simply involved painting areas of the floor red to create ‘no go zones’ and employees would be disciplined if they entered them.

According to statistics released by the UK Material Handling Association, there are more than 1,300 forklift truck accidents in the UK every year – an average of five accidents every workday and their impact is far-reaching.

Obviously, a forklift accident affects those involved in the accident, but it can also affect colleagues who witness it and family members who are left to care for someone who is injured, particularly if the injuries are life changing. I have known of first aiders who have been so traumatised from attending events like this that have required counselling. Not to mention the financial implications of employing someone to investigate the accident and take action to prevent one from happening again. The company could also be held liable and have to pay damages, which could cost millions of pounds.

Top tips to take away to ensure forklift safety

This National Forklift Day, I would urge you to take the following advice on board to avoid a serious accident at your workplace:

  • Good forklift training is essential. Please ensure that anyone who will be in control of a forklift has received adequate training before being given the keys.
  • Stringent processes and procedures are vital to reduce the likelihood of an accident. Do you allow pedestrians to cross your loading bays, for example?
  • Check your forklifts are in proper working order.
  • Don’t leave keys in unattended forklift trucks.

For more health and safety advice, contact our team on 01604 936508 or info@acornsafetyservices.co.uk.

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