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Fork Truck tragedies could have been avoided

Fork Lift Truck Association urges truck users to take more care

The Fork Lift Truck Association has issued a safety warning in response to two separate, fatal accidents involving markedly similar circumstances.

Tragically, the fatalities could well have been avoided had the operators concerned employed a few basic but life-saving measures.

The FTLA is, therefore, reminding employers that it is important to regularly monitor fork lift truck operators and ensure they receive refresher training when it is required. Above all they must observe fundamental safety rules.

Both incidents involved a trained operator who had parked the vehicle but failed to fully apply the handbrake. In each case the load had not been lowered to the ground. Tragically, the trucks, which had been parked on a slight slope, rolled forward, crushing the operator to death. The accidents were fatal because the loads had been left at chest height, resulting in massive thoracic injuries.

“These recent tragedies remind us that basic safety measures are imperative” urges David Ellison, Chief Executive of FLTA. “Whatever the time demands upon operators, safety is always a priority. Just a few careless moments can have fatal consequences.”

“In both these cases, had the forks been fully lowered before the driver left the vehicle, their friction with the ground would have slowed or even stopped the vehicle. Even if the trucks had moved, the operators would have avoided being crushed at chest height and may have escaped with leg injuries.”

“The message is: follow the correct procedures that should always be followed when parking a fork lift truck – regardless of how short a time the truck will be left unattended.”

The truck should be on level ground to avoid unwanted movement when stationary. The forks must be lowered to the ground, the parking brake fully applied and the keys removed.

The FLTA also strongly advises that all brakes should be tested daily, alongside other regular operator checks, to ensure they function correctly.

Workplace transport is responsible for about a quarter of all UK health and safety fatalities, with annual statistics reporting 70 fatalities and 2,500 major accidents.

David Ellison comments: “Regardless of how experienced the fork lift operator, such incidences can still occur if basic safety procedures are neglected. Managers and supervisors must recognise sloppy practice and take immediate and appropriate action. Workplace transport is, potentially, a lethal weapon that can cause serious injury and even death if not used with genuine care. A few moments dedicated to safety will help to avoid such needless and appalling accidents.”

The FLTA can be contacted by calling 01256 381441, emailing mail@fork-truck.org.uk or writing to the Fork Lift Truck Association, Manor Farm Buildings, Lasham, Alton, Hants, GU34 5SL.

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