Forklift truck-related accident rates are likely to rise as the UK economy starts to emerge uncertainly from recession, a leading health and safety practitioner has warned.
Peter Scott , Jungheinrich UK Ltd’s Group HSE manager, contends that while demand for some goods and services is increasing, the doubts that still surround much of the economy will make many companies reluctant to take on more permanent staff. Such businesses are, he says, likely to turn to greater use of agency workers in an attempt to relieve the growing pressure on their supply chains.
"Our figures indicate that agency workers are involved in more forklift accidents than permanent staff," says Peter Scott.
"We are already seeing growth in the use of agency staff and it is no coincidence that Jungheinrich’s records show that accidents rates have gone up in tandem."
With the Health and Safety Executive targeting the competency of forklift drivers in 2011, the training of agency workers can be something of a grey area. "It is an agency’s responsibility to provide staff that are trained to operate the materials handling equipment which they will be using, but it is down to the company employing them to ensure that the workers are familiar with the environment and layout of the warehouse where they will work," explains Peter Scott.
Peter Scott continues: "If a Jungheinrich truck is involved in an accident our engineers will visit the site and talk to the client in an attempt to determine what has happened. We aim to get to the scene as quickly as possible to isolate the truck involved. We check to ensure that the problem wasn’t caused by a technical issue with the machine, before considering if environmental aspects of the building, driver error or some other factors were responsible.
"In the majority of cases driver error is to blame, but, of course, it’s usual for the driver to blame the truck. It is depressing but true that in these days of no-win, no-fee solicitors and the general compensation culture that has taken hold in the UK, some forklift drivers will view an accident as a potential money making opportunity, so it is essential that companies continue to invest in forklift operator training."
Junghenrich UK Ltd offers a range of tuition packages tailored for all kinds of truck and every level of operator.