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4 simple ways to minimise lost time by reducing accident risk

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When an accident happens, everything stops. Not only is the safety of your most important asset – your team –compromised, but the productivity of your business as well.

While the immediate effects are being dealt with, your deadlines are slipping by. Even a relatively minor incident such as a dropped pallet could result in delays, missed deliveries and unhappy customers. Plus, there’s any resulting investigations, staff absences/cover and equipment repairs to think about, as well as aisle closures, clean up time and stock replenishment in the short term.

The good news is, the majority of forklift accidents are avoidable, and by focussing on a few key areas, you can greatly reduce the risk of delays, disruption and downtime on your site.

1. Ensure operators are properly trained

Proper forklift training ensures that operators have the skills and knowledge to work safely and efficiently and understand the importance of doing so. It encourages them to be more proactive and to take ownership of the safety of themselves and their colleagues. Investing in your team in this way can also help them to feel safe and valued, impacting on staff retention rates and morale and, as a result, your overall productivity.

The Approved Code of Practice for Rider-operated lift trucks — known as L117 – outlines 3 essential stages of training that should always be covered. Read about them here.

2. Make sure your site is a safe place for everyone

To maintain or establish a safe working culture within a forklift truck operation, the whole workforce must be considered. Risk assessments should be completed, followed by Safe Systems of Work (SSOW), which are communicated to all parties to ensure everyone understands the risks and how to carry out their duties safely.

Forklift awareness courses, like Safely Working with Lift Trucks, ensure that everyone required to work around forklift trucks (operator or not) is aware of the hazards and consequences of unsafe operations, as well as the benefits of upholding safe working practices.

Remember, statistically, those most at risk of injury from forklift truck accidents are pedestrians, so it’s vital that they understand the dangers. To reduce the risk of accidents, ensure that everyone has a safe route around your site and that they follow it, with physical segregation between pedestrians and lift trucks in place wherever possible.

3. Carry out regular monitoring

Regularly monitoring operations will allow managers to assess how operators are working, correct behaviour where necessary, and minimise accident risk. By consistently overseeing operations, they can nip any unsafe practice in the bud before it becomes accepted as the norm and spreads throughout the workforce.

This relies on your managers and supervisors having a sound knowledge of the relevant hazards so that they know what to look out for. Should they need guidance, Mentor’s Managing Forklift Operations course can help them to understand and meet their responsibilities for safety.

4. Continually review your procedures

Businesses are constantly adapting, so, as a result, forklift operators may be tasked with using different equipment, carrying new types of loads, or navigating an updated site layout. When things change, it is important to make sure that you review processes and SSOW to ensure that they are still relevant, and update them if they are not. Remember – clear, communicated, monitored SSOW are key to ensuring that your safety message is not misinterpreted or ignored, so it’s vital that they remain applicable.

Not only are these simple measures easy to implement, they are all cost-effective – many can be actioned internally and require only your time. So when weighed against the often serious and costly repercussions of accidents and resulting disruption, it’s definitely worth taking steps now to protect your staff and your operational productivity going forward.

For further guidance on forklift safety and training, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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