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When it comes to workplace safety, basic operator training is by no means a magic bullet. You may be surprised to hear this from a business that specialises in delivering forklift training, but it’s a fact.

Operator training is crucial. But, alone, it is not enough. Training operators, even to the highest standards, will only do so much. There are other essential measures which must be in place within a business to maintain a safe working environment.

Imagine your operation as a tall building, where each safety measure is an individual building block. Together they form a strong, robust structure. Remove a single block and it weakens. Continue removing them and, sooner or later, the whole thing will collapse.

Operator training is just one block. It’s a key foundation, but many other components are required to form a sturdy structure (e.g. supervision, safe systems of work, etc). The more areas that are neglected, the more safety becomes compromised, and the higher the risk. As we hear all too often, accidents are rarely a result of one issue – they are usually caused by a combination of multiple failings. 

It’s vital that you take a rounded approach to safety and ensure all measures are in place to reduce risk as far as possible. Let’s explore some key components for a safe, compliant and productive working environment.

  1. Operator training (all three elements)

In the UK, the Approved Code of Practice L117 states that there are three elements to this training, which all operators must receive. Basic/novice training will equip them with the core skills to use a lift truck safely and efficiently, but also providing specific job and familiarisation training will ensure that operators understand the specific loads, site layouts and procedures they’ll face day-to-day. Make sure you’re covering all three essential elements with your operators.

  1. Safe Systems of Work (SSOW)

Different areas of operation require defined sets of rules or SSOW. They can apply to practices such as safe working distances, pedestrian segregation, seatbelt use, and loading/unloading. Without them, employees may be tempted to use their own discretion, leading to bad habits and risk-taking. Ensure these important procedures are properly implemented to get the most out of your Safe Systems of Work.

  1. Awareness training for those on foot

On many sites, pedestrians will work in the vicinity of forklift trucks. Its vital that they understand the dangers and their role in minimising risk. Engage pedestrians as well as operators through methods such as safety awareness training, toolbox talks and clear signage to remind them to keep a safe distance.

  1. Manager and supervisor training

Operators have a responsibility to adhere to best practice but, should complacency or bad habits kick in, managers and supervisors must be able to intervene. To do this they need the skills and knowledge to recognise unsafe operation and how to put it right. Specialist training for managers is available to ensure they are equipped to meet their responsibilities for site safety.

  1. Monitoring and supervision

Once managers and supervisors are trained and have the underlying forklift safety knowledge, they must be proactive in ensuring best practice is followed day-to-day. By walking the floor and monitoring operator behaviour, managers can spot skill gaps and arrange additional training where necessary. Download our free poster on the various monitoring methods available to those managing forklift operations to help with this.

The sum of its parts

These are just some of the key components which, together, make for a safe workplace. By taking an all-encompassing approach, you can help to ensure the safety of your operation is not compromised.

Make sure all vital elements are in place on your site and, once they are, continually maintain them to ensure that your organisation’s approach to safety remains effective and robust for the long term.

For more information on training solutions that can help to improve safety on your site, please call 01246 555222 or click here to contact us.

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