Inadequate training escalates risk for fork-lift workers

More than 1.2 million UK workers could be at risk of a serious or even fatal accident because they have not been adequately trained to work near fork-lift trucks, according to new statistics.

The research, which was carried out by the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA), was published to coincide with National Fork Lift Safety Week, which took place between 19 and 25 September 2011.

The association has estimated that every year between five and 10 UK workers are killed by fork-lift trucks, and around 400 people are hospitalised with major injuries, including amputations and crushing. More than 1,000 suffer accidents requiring at least three days’ recovery time, it said.

Through an analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics and sector skills council Skills for Logistics, the FLTA calculated that one in 12 UK employees regularly worked near fork-lift trucks, yet fewer than half of them received the minimum recommended training.

Workers at risk included not only fork-lift truck operators but also van and heavy-goods-vehicle drivers, warehouse workers, managers and other colleagues in closely associated roles, warned the FLTA.

David Ellison, FLTA chief executive, said: “Even after recent safety improvements, fork-lift trucks account for more serious injuries than any other workplace transport.

“It’s essential that anyone working near such potentially dangerous equipment is properly trained.

“Around two-thirds of accident victims are colleagues on foot – and, of course, managers can’t protect employees unless they’ve also had the right training to spot and eliminate risks.”

Clear evidence of the scale of the problem emerged in September, with the opening of a court case over an accident that involved a fork-lift truck.

The prosecution of Lancashire firm Serviceplan Contracts by the Health and Safety Executive followed an accident in August 2010, when a worker fell from a fork-lift truck while attempting to carry out maintenance work and suffered severe head injuries.

The company was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay a further £1,000 in prosecution costs.

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