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Ensure new starters have the skills to beat the Christmas rush

Ensure new starters have the skills to beat the Christmas rush

When taking on additional staff in the run up to busy periods, Mentor Training are reminding employers that research suggests an influx of new starters means an increased risk of injury on site.

Andy Cartwright, technical manager for the leading materials handling and workplace transport training provider explains: “During the first month of employment, any worker – whether permanent or temporary – is four times more likely to be involved in an accident. Worse still, with each percentage-point increase in new staff, a company’s risk of major workplace injuries can increase up to 2.5 per cent.”

Mentor have emphasised the need to actively ensure your new starters are equipped to begin work. Andy continues, “Without proper training, a simple solution to the Christmas rush can come at a very high cost. Injuries, damage and disruptions are costly at any time, but at this time of year you need your workforce at its most productive. To get the most out of your new employees, make sure they’ve got the specific skills and knowledge required to become a safe and effective part of the team.”

“By doing so, you can actually unlock a host of practical and financial benefits, allowing workers to integrate safely and quickly into your workforce, achieving – and even exceeding – the positive impact they were hired to have.”

Check prior experience and certification

Employers have a responsibility under Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98) to ensure that both current and potential employees have received adequate training prior to using work equipment.

Andy says: “It is vital that you evaluate your new starters’ skills and knowledge and check and validate their prior documentation. Where courses have been delivered under one of the accrediting bodies within the Accrediting Bodies Association (ABA) for Workplace Transport, you can verify the authenticity of training certification quickly and easily via their central databases.”

Cover all three essential elements of training

The HSE’s definitive forklift operations safety guidance – L117 Approved Code of Practice for Rider-Operated Lift Trucks – makes clear the need for proper training and supervision of all staff, including new starters.

Andy reminds employers: “You are responsible for the health and safety of all employees, regardless of how long they have worked for your company but, as the figures show, new starters have a higher chance of being involved in an accident and can also increase the level of risk for those around them, so proper training is vital. And this should include all three elements of training listed in L117: basic, job-specific and familiarisation. Basic training alone may not be enough to keep your new employees safe and productive.”

A recent online test produced by Mentor in conjunction with the Fork Lift Truck Association, suggested that the three types of training may often be overlooked. From the hundreds of managers participating, who are responsible for overseeing the use of forklift trucks, just 1 in 3 correctly identified the three categories required.

Andy explains its importance, “This training allows operators to apply their skills and knowledge to their role, gaining a sound understanding of the operating principles and controls of the truck that will be used for the job, in the way it will be used in their workplace. For instance, adjustments to standard procedures may need to be made for negotiating onsite traffic routes, restricted areas and lifting heights or handling specific loads. Don’t underestimate the importance of all three elements; there’s a reason the L117 describes them as “essential.”

Take a holistic approach

Alongside comprehensive training for operators, Mentor is keen to stress that those sharing the same working environment also need to be aware of the hazards. Statistics from the HSE show that 57% of people injured in forklift truck accidents are pedestrians, and Mentor are encouraging businesses to raise awareness amongst all staff – not just operators – of the dangers facing them day to day.

“Those on foot are among those most at risk but they are often overlooked when it comes to forklift safety awareness training. It’s crucial that every employee working on or around forklift trucks understands the dangers they pose… and how to avoid them. It’s not just common sense – in fact, we have specifically developed a Safely Working with Lift Trucks course to deliver this important information in a short, sharp and thought-provoking way to encourage engagement and challenge unsafe behaviours.”

Andy summarises: “It’s proven that trained staff make for a safe, efficient workforce, and making sure your new starters are fully-informed will make for a swift, problem-free introduction into your team – crucial at a time when you’re performing under pressure. By ensuring your new starters are equipped to work, you can reduce risk and contribute towards a safe and stress-free Christmas for everyone involved.”

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