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Turn down the noise and give Good Vibrations

HEALTH AND SAFETY EXPERT SAYS TO FORKLIFT TRUCK INDUSTRY. A leading health and safety expert says that by switching to LPG-fuelled fork lift trucks, employers may be able to better meet the regulations contained within the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and the recently updated Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.

Dr Terry Ritter is head of safety, health and environment at Calor, the UK's leading supplier of LPG – liquefied petroleum gas. Calor is a principal player in the materials handling sector, with all the major forklift truck manufacturers offering LPG options in their product ranges.

Dr Ritter believes that LPG may provide a simple solution to enable employers to meet the new regulations: “Many employees in the UK are exposed to noise levels at work. At their worst, these noise levels can potentially damage hearing, leading to noise-induced hearing loss.

“The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force in April 2006, replacing the existing Noise at Work Regulations 1989 for all industries in the UK. It's hoped that full compliance with the regulations will eliminate all new cases of work-related hearing damage by 2030 with the emphasis on identifying measures to eliminate or reduce exposure rather than simply relying on hearing protection, although this may also be needed in the short term.

“For companies operating fork lift trucks, one way to help contribute to meeting the new regulations could be to switch your trucks from diesel to LPG powered.”

Noise Control

One Calor customer already benefiting from the switch from diesel to LPG is Palletways. Palletways, the UK's market leader in the overnight distribution of small consignments of palletised freight, turned to Calor to provide a solution to power its expanding fleet of fork lift trucks last year. The company has the capacity to handle 32,000 pallets every day and sees more than 240 wagons travel through its facilities every night.

As a major supplier to some of the best known brand names in Europe including Boots and Carlsberg, Palletways and its UK network of 106 member companies, operates a 24-hour-a-day service. One of the benefits when changing from diesel to LPG was to reduce noise levels for the company's employees as well as the surrounding area.

Health and Safety Manager, David Gough explains: “Our facility covers 350,000 square feet. We operate a 24-hour service with the majority of our work being carried out in the evening between the hours of 9pm and 6am when between 13,000 and 15,000 pallets are processed every night. There's no time to lose and we employ a team of traffic marshals to keep everyone moving.

“Ideally, we were looking for a solution to cut noise levels dramatically but to keep productivity the same or even better. Calor's LPG solution has cut noise levels by five decibels, which is a 40 per cent reduction compared to our old diesel trucks. The thudding and slapping noise from our diesel trucks has now gone and we will continue to assess noise levels every 12 months as a matter of course.”

Good Vibrations

Another area that Dr Ritter believes the industry should also be focusing on is vibrations and the damage that old equipment could be causing to operators. He said: “The Health and Safety Executive has recently published further guidance on Whole Body Vibration (WBV), providing further advice on reducing and controlling the risks under the Control of Vibration Work Act 2005.

“The act gives companies a transitional period of until 2010 to replace existing non-compliant equipment. If companies need to buy or replace their fork lift trucks to meet these regulations then this would provide an ideal opportunity for them to consider LPG powered trucks over all other fuels. The benefits over electric and diesel are clear to see. LPG fork lift trucks can operate effectively 24/7 with no loss of power, lifetime running costs can be lower than electric trucks and as outlined above, LPG fork lift trucks can reduce noise levels in the work place. They are also ideal indoors and out – even in more sensitive environments. Added to this there are no battery disposal problems, no harmful fumes under normal operating conditions and LPG fork lift trucks have virtually zero emissions when fitted with a 3-way catalyst.

“Calor LPG offers a cleaner burning alternative that also eliminates the risks associated with fuel spillage. Unlike oil tanks, LPG bulk tanks usually remain the responsibility of the LPG supplier and Calor's bulk storage tanks are subject to regularly inspections and maintenance backed by a 24 hour emergency service, giving you peace of mind.”

Now may just be an opportune time to assess your existing fork lift trucks in line with new the regulations. Replacing old equipment with new LPG-powered fork lift trucks may just take the strain away from one area of your business.

To find out how LPG can help your business visit www.lpg-forklift.co.uk or telephone 0800 216 659.

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