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British business “gambling with workers’ lives”

Fork lift trucks: 100,000 UK companies use a potential killer daily. The official body representing the UK's fork lift truck industry has today issued a stark warning to 100,000 British businesses: improve your procedures… or risk killing more employees.

Britain's 350,000 fork lift trucks play a pivotal but often unsung role in all manner of UK workplaces, from nuclear power stations to small, independent garden centres; however, they also kill or seriously injure at least one UK worker every day – a figure the Fork Lift Truck Association says shames British business as a whole.

Despite notable technological advances in recent years, promising greater safety for fork lift operators and nearby colleagues, accident figures have remained stubbornly high; evidence, the Association claims, of widespread flaws in working practices.

FLTA Chief Executive David Ellison explains: “Fork Lift Trucks are an absolutely essential part of industry and commerce, and are responsible at some stage for moving almost every product you can buy. Nonetheless, such powerful machines are extremely dangerous if not treated with appropriate respect.

“A UK worker is killed by a fork-lift truck every six weeks, with serious injuries at more than one per day, and other reportable incidents or accidents every 90 minutes – and HSE reports show most are entirely avoidable. It is a scandalous toll, proving that too many companies simply do not take their safety responsibilities seriously enough.”

Studies carried out by the Association, and enquiries to its Hampshire headquarters, have revealed worrying misconceptions about key safety issues including operator “licences” and training, seat belts and compulsory Thorough Examination testing.

David Ellison continues: “The disappointing thing is, the basic elements of fork lift truck safety are not rocket science – but many companies still seem, at best, confused about the legislation and best practice… regularly costing life and limb.”

For its part, the FLTA is attempting to combat the problem, offering fork lift users guidance safe and efficient truck operation, in a variety of formats – including free downloadable “fact sheets”, giving authoritative answers to common queries, and a “Safe User Group” with regular updates on the latest legislation and safety news.

Notably, its fifth National Safety Conference, a one-day event in September giving companies an opportunity to grasp relevant best practice, bust common myths and implement real-life solutions on their own sites, is open to all.

Tony Hall, of headline sponsors STILL Materials Handling, says: “We are constantly devising new technological improvements to our truck designs, making them ever safer, but of course the user ultimately plays the most important role. Attending the National Safety Conference is probably the single most effective thing any company can do to update itself quickly and comprehensively about fork lift safety.”

David Ellison concludes: “Our message to any company using a fork lift truck – regardless of the size of your operation – is simple: safety is vital, so inform yourself, and take it seriously. If you're not sure, contact the FLTA via www.fork-truck.org.uk, and we'll be happy to help. It could save your business… or even a worker's life.”

The Fork Lift Truck Association can be contacted at: Manor Farm Buildings, Lasham, Alton, Hants, GU34 5SL and www.fork-truck.org.uk.
Tel: 01256 381441
fax 01256 381735
email mail@fork-truck.org.uk.

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