15% of all workplace injuries come from the manufacturing industry, with a large number of these involving equipment such as pallet trucks, manual stacker trucks and aerial work platforms. The economic climate is dire enough for businesses, without the prospect of them facing a large insurance pay-out because of their negligence. There are three main things that businesses can do in order to rule out themselves as the liable party in a potential accident or injury case: they must perform in-depth risk assessments, conduct regular and thorough maintenance and train their staff to the highest level necessary to operate the relevant equipment.
All equipment used in the workplace, whether it is a step ladder or an aerial lift platform should have a comprehensive risk assessment carried out on it before it can be used. This assessment helps to evaluate the risks that employees will face, and encourages the employer conducting the assessment to take the necessary precautions. Carrying out a detailed risk assessment also provides employers with a written record of their evaluation, which could potentially be used as evidence in any insurance claim. Workers should also be encouraged to risk assess and document everything they work with; if they come into contact with a hazardous substance or a faulty piece of equipment, it should be reported. Broken wheels, oil leakages and overloading trucks are all things that should be recorded, with senior staff notified so that precautions can be taken.
Following on from the risk assessment element, all employees and employers should be well versed in the art of maintenance for pump trucks and pallet trucks. Keeping these trucks in prime condition is paramount to the safe operation of this equipment throughout the workplace, and it not only helps to keep the operators safe, it also adds security for the people working around them. Regular inspections and checks should be carried out. Basic checks should be performed daily by those who will operate machinery or equipment, and more thorough checks on a weekly basis should be carried out by senior staff members, who will be able to arrange for professional maintenance or put in an order for a new budget hand pallet truck.
Training is the final piece of the puzzle; if those operating the manual stacker trucks and pump trucks are not adequately trained in all areas of health and safety, there is a high chance that more accidents and injuries will occur around the workplace. Many hand pallet trucks do not require specialist qualifications, but it is important for employees to understand all relevant legislation and safety policies of both the government and the organisation they are working for.
Training, maintenance and risk assessment combined form a safety triangle which, if adhered to, can help to protect not only employees against injury, but also businesses against costly insurance and compensation claims.