The Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) has declared itself "very encouraged" by new HSE statistics showing a significant fall in UK fork lift truck accidents since the introduction of its National Safety Week – but reminded managers that there is still much more to do.
Announcing the dates of this year’s Safety Week, from 20th – 26th September, FLTA chief executive David Ellison confirmed that last year’s overall accident toll was the lowest recorded this century – down a full quarter from the average annual figure.
The fall contrasts sharply with accident figures for other forms of workplace transport, such as Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs), which remained broadly static or even increased year-on-year, removing any suggestion that broader factors such as the economic downturn might have reduced workload risks.
Workplace transport analysis on the HSE website states: "The number of accidents involving LGVs has remained broadly flat over recent years, but the number of FLT injuries fell sharply over the last year, leaving it 13% below that in 2001/02 for the first time."
Most strikingly, fork lift truck-related deaths and injuries among members of the public plummeted last year to a full 59% below the average; a statistic the FLTA hopes is a reflection upon the broad targeting of its safety message.
The latest figures accelerate a downward trend which started in 2007/8.
Despite the continued fall, however, fork lift trucks remain the most dangerous kind of workplace transport, accounting for more deaths and injuries than the next two categories combined.
David Ellison said: "It is far too early to fully appreciate whether this is a two-year blip or an ongoing trend, but any reduction in the injury toll is, of course, extremely welcome.
"The fact that such a significant improvement has coincided with the start of our Safety Week campaigns, is most encouraging, to say the least.
"Clearly there is no room for complacency. Serious fork lift truck-related accidents remain all too common, and still hospitalise UK workers at a rate of more than one per day. But these figures show the difference that individual workers, managers, and fork lift truck operators can make with just a little more care – and give us hope that we can keep the total coming down."
For more information on National Fork Lift Safety Week, or to download free safety resources, visit the Fork Lift Truck Association online, at