How Can Forklift Accidents Be Prevented – Health and safety is a top priority for any business. Whatever the industry, employers have a duty of care to their employees.
However, there are some sectors and settings that require particularly robust health and safety risk assessments and procedures. One example of this is in busy warehouses. For those who run these settings, there is a lot to be aware of in terms of protecting the workforce, from objects falling from a height to slips and trips.
A major risk factor in any warehouse is forklift trucks. These are essential for moving heavy loads around, however, as with all types of heavy-duty machinery, they require fully trained workers to operate them successfully and safely.
Even with trained forklift truck drivers, accidents can still happen. So, how can these be prevented? And who is liable when they happen?
How Can Forklift Accidents Be Prevented
Forklift truck accidents: The Stats
According to the UK Material Handling Association, there are ‘…over 1,300 forklift truck accidents a year, which means that, on average, there are five accidents every workday in the UK.’
Warehouses are becoming increasingly busy, too. As e-commerce behemoths like Amazon continue to grow, restructuring logistics and adding new distribution centres, there are more people working onsite around these forklift trucks – meaning there are more people who could be injured.
Common forklift accidents
- Incorrect loading and unloading
- Overloading the forklift with too much weight
- Hitting an individual while moving a forklift
- Missing out on safety precautions
- Using a forklift to lift people or other valuable items instead of cargo
- Not ensuring forklift friendly workplace design
Who is liable?
It’s important that employers know who is responsible should a forklift truck incident occur. The circumstances of the incident will be significant in determining who the liability falls to:
- The forklift operator
Accidents can happen where the forklift truck operator became distracted or failed to follow the correct procedure when driving the truck.
- The forklift vendor
The company that sells forklift trucks could be liable if, for instance, they have sold substandard equipment or failed to include maintenance guidance when selling the machinery.
- The manufacturing company
If the forklift truck itself is defective or doesn’t meet safety regulations, the fault could lie with the manufacturer.
- The employer
The employer is responsible for ensuring staff are fully trained and that all certifications and training is up to date. Also, employers are likely to be held responsible if regular checks aren’t run on the machinery to ensure it’s operating correctly and safe to use.
While there are several possibilities when it comes to who is held responsible, in many cases the fault lies with the employer and claims for compensation after an injury are most often aimed at business owners.
As well as ensuring training is in order, there other factors for employers to consider.
Charlotte Dowson, Associate at Bolt Burdon Kemp and part of the Personal Injury Claims Team, said: “Employers must also make sure that they have proper systems for keeping forklifts away from pedestrian traffic. There will need to be designated traffic routes and pedestrian walkways, with floor markings, warning signs, notices, and barriers. Speed limits must be imposed and observed.”
Whether you are introducing a forklift truck for the first time or you’ve been overseeing this machinery in your warehouses for years, it’s always important that employees can safely operate this machinery.