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How to create proactive managers who put safety policies into practice

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Do you find that despite your company having operator training, risk assessments and relevant safe systems of work (SSOW) in place, forklift accidents, near misses and bad habits persist?

Here, we explain why skilled and confident managers are key when it comes to upholding safety in your operations.

Vital reinforcement

According to a recent survey of businesses using forklift trucks, 1 in 4 respondents said their operators were either not aware of the SSOW in place at their company or didn’t comply with them.

Sadly, despite their basic training, human behaviour means that operators can soon become complacent and develop bad habits, which soon leads to unsafe practice… if you let it.

We hear from customers, safety professionals and even HSE Inspectors themselves that, too often, the safety message gets lost in translation between best practice documented at senior level and what’s happening on the ground. There seems to be a missing link. The importance of following procedures put in place for their protection is simply not impressed upon the workforce.

To bridge the gap, its necessary to engage your supervisors and managers, so that they can steer complacent operators — who are either unaware or unconcerned of the risks — away from bad habits and poor practice.

What’s holding managers back?

Proactive management makes a real difference to the safety culture of your business. But many face a number of barriers that stop them from effectively upholding forklift safety procedures on site. What are they and, more importantly, how can they be overcome?

  • Lack of knowledge — Managers aren’t legally required to be able to operate a forklift truck, so they might not have first-hand experience of the risks involved. But what is a requirement, under Approved Code of Practice (L117), is that managers are trained to be able to identify these risks, spot any unsafe practice and correct it.
  • Lack of experience — Nowadays, fewer managers have spent time working on the shop floor, so they may not be aware of common shortcuts or bad habits encountered day to day that should be monitored. But the latest sentencing guidelines for H&S offences mean the stakes are higher than ever — in the event of an accident, businesses could face crippling fines or worse. Ensure your managers understand the dangers and the importance of regular monitoring. It will reduce the risk and is ultimately much more cost-effective than hefty penalties.
  • Lack of skills — Given the current skills shortage, it can be difficult to find the right people with the required knowledge to manage your forklift operations. If you don’t have the relevant managers in place, upskilling is a great alternative, as existing staff, who already have an understanding of your business, can gain the additional skills and confidence required to fulfil the role.
  • Lack of time  Despite other responsibilities, it’s vital that managers do not neglect their duty to monitor forklift use. After all, your policies only work if they are enforced. To ensure best practice is being followed, managers must see the importance of ‘walking the floor’ and correcting anyone that is not following safe systems of work. A big part of this is ensuring they understand the potential consequences should bad practice be allowed to continue, and result in an accident.
  • Lack of confidence  Regardless of potential peer pressure, it’s vital that standards are upheld, for everybody’s sake. Those on site will be kept safe from accidents and injuries, your managers (and your business) will be meeting their legal responsibilities, and your operations will remain productive. Ensure your managers have a firm grasp of what’s safe and what isn’t, so that they feel confident stopping bad practice in its tracks. (Empowering them with the skills and knowledge to do so will also show them they have your backing to actively uphold site safety.)

The solution: flexible online training

Equipping your managers with the skills, knowledge and confidence to fulfil their roles effectively is key to ensuring your H&S policies are put into practice day to day. But many companies struggle to find a relevant training course that doesn’t require them to release senior staff for long periods away from the business.

Our new e-learning course — Managing Forklift Operations — has been designed with these challenges in mind.

  • Keep staff in situ — Managers can learn wherever and whenever suits them, so they don’t need to attend face-to-face training for a full day.
  • Less time to complete — The course is completed in a few hours, at a pace that suits the individual.
  • Protect operational productivity — Managers can fit training around production, daily deadlines and targets, so training them up needn’t slow things down.


The Managing Forklift Operations course is avilable now. For more information, click here.

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