A leading provider of short-term forklift truck hire is warning fleet operators to refresh their health and safety procedures and make sure they can safely cope with demand as industry gears up for the busiest period of the year.
Christmas may still be several months away, but retailers are now taking delivery of new stock while warehouse and distribution centres across the UK are putting plans in place to keep the shelves topped up over the festive season.
Historical studies commissioned by Briggs Equipment suggest this sudden increase in workload can lead to a disproportionate increase in accidents involving forklift operators, and managers need to face up to a number of challenges according to the firm’s Asset Manager, Allan Parsons.
"From our own experience and previous industry research we know there is a clear link between increased activity in the pre-Christmas period and the number of accidents, but the reasons behind this are not so clear cut," explained Allan.
"A study carried out several years ago suggests that 10 – 15 per cent of all accidents are the result of inadequate training and this is likely to become a greater risk during busy periods when agency or other temporary staff are employed to cope with demand.
"However, other factors may also contribute to the problem, including more experienced staff taking procedural ‘short cuts’ to keep up with the increased workload."
Having identified these issues, Briggs is stressing the importance of re-enforcing health and safety procedures to its growing list of short-term hire customers. In the last few months it has seen a 70 per cent increase in demand for its fleet of 3,000 forklift trucks.
Allan went on to say there are simple steps that businesses can take to reduce the risk of accidents, which not only have a human cost but a significant impact on productivity.
These include making sure that all temporary staff are fully familiar with both the work environment and the equipment they are using, perhaps by introducing a thorough induction process if one is not already in place.
Longer-serving staff also need to be reminded of their obligations and now would be a good time to hold a brief workshop or seminar.
"Most importantly managers need to recognise that safety could be compromised if there are insufficient staff or equipment to cope with increased demand over the Christmas period," he said. "Put staff and equipment under too much pressure and there will be a greater temptation to take short cuts and therefore a greater risk of accidents.
"As such accidents can be costly in terms downtime and possible legal action, failure to invest in temporary resources to cope with the rush – even in a difficult economic environment – could prove a false economy.
"The temptation to ‘make do with what we’ve got’ may be greater than ever this year due to the current economic uncertainty, but businesses that have already made cut backs may be even more at risk of accidents as ‘overstretched’ becomes ‘overwhelmed’ during the Christmas rush."
Allan added that Briggs Equipment was also playing its part, by ensuring that the Yale forklift trucks it supplies on a short-term hire contract are fully serviced with LOLER certificates and meet the highest safety specifications.
"From side-loaders to heavy duty lift trucks, all Briggs vehicles are renowned for their ease of operation and are equipped with the latest technology to further reduce the risk of accidents," he concluded.
Furthermore, Briggs Equipment is making it easier for companies to safely meet increased demand through its flexible hire terms that can even include next day delivery. And, unlike other companies, it does not invoice in advance. Customers pay for what they actually use instead of guessing, with over or under-charges adding to the hassle during the busiest time of year.