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The vital role managers play in upholding MHE safety

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Would you pass your driving test if you took it again today? Sure, you were skilled enough when you took lessons to pass your test, but could you have developed bad habits and become complacent in certain areas? Perhaps your awareness of risks has declined, and you no longer see the potential danger in certain situations because you have become so accustomed to them.

It is human nature to become somewhat complacent when we are confident in our abilities, but this can lead to potential issues. If a team member begins to develop complacency, spurred on by those around them in similar roles, with similar attitudes, how long until this approach becomes the norm? This ‘risk fade’ can soon spread, and the safety of the team (and those around them) could be compromised.

Now apply this logic to the materials handling industry, and the stakes are raised. The potential risk attached to bad practice on a busy site where forklift trucks weighing upwards of 4000kg are being operated, is extremely high.

Around 1300 serious injuries occur as a result of forklift-related accidents every year, with nearly all of these being entirely avoidable. So how do we bridge the gap between what operators learn to do in training, and what actually happens day to day on site?

By actively implementing safe practice day to day, confident and knowledgeable managers have the power to make a positive change to this ongoing statistic.

Managing forklift operations: why is this role so important?

When it comes to forklift operations, good managers can ensure safety, compliance and profitability for your business.

Managers help protect productivity and profitability:

Managers committed to rectifying bad practice not only reduce the risk of accidents but costly damage, disruption and delays, too.

Even in the cases of minor bumps and scrapes, the costs soon mount up. For example, imagine a pallet of stock is dropped – something relatively inexpensive. Aside from the written off stock and replenishment cost, clean up will be required, and potentially aisle closures. This can halt operations, causing lost time and potentially missed deadlines. It all adds up and impacts your bottom line. Having managers in place to combat unsafe practice before it leads to an accident helps to reduce the risk of costly issues.

Most importantly, of course, proactive managers can help to ensure safety.

Managers help to ensure the safety of the team:

Proactive managers can help to set standards and build a safe culture within a workplace where forklift trucks are being operated. Even well-trained operators can become complacent over time, so it’s vital that regular monitoring takes place, and any bad habits are rectified before they become common practice.

Accidents involving forklift trucks can have a life-changing impact, and don’t forget, it isn’t just operators that are at risk when corners are allowed to be cut. It’s those working alongside them who are most likely to be injured should something go wrong, so it’s vital that safe operating practice is enforced, as the repercussions of an accident can be widespread.

Capable management is a legal requirement:

Aside from benefitting your team, having proficient managers and supervisors in place will help to keep your business compliant. In fact, the HSE’s Approved Code of Practice for rider-operated lift trucks (L117), outlines it as a requirement. L117 states that those in these roles should be able to carry out effective observation, communicate effectively with operators, recognise unsafe practice and behaviour, and maintain and promote health and safety standards. Like all ACOPs, L117 has special legal status, so following its guidance will mean you remain on the right side of the law.

What makes a good manager, in terms of MHE safety?

With regards to MHE safety, managers and supervisors must do what they can to ensure that best practice is continually followed by everyone, day in, day out.

Providing operator training is all well and good, but by using regular monitoring and supervision, managers can ensure that the safe practices learned are maintained over time. And don’t worry, monitoring doesn’t mean a manager needs to follow an operator around and track their every movement, it can take many different forms. Of course, direct supervision can be a useful method. But so can studying truck telematics, CCTV footage, or checking progress against KPIs. The best approach is likely a combination of methods, but it will require the manager to have a good understanding of good and bad practice.

Providing managers the skills and knowledge to uphold safety

To be effective in their roles, managers and supervisors don’t need to be qualified forklift operators, but they do need the knowledge and confidence to be able to spot and rectify any unsafe behaviour.

Specialist safety management training is an ideal solution to ensure these vital skills are in place. Our Managing Forklift Operations course is designed to help managers understand and reduce the risk of accidents and damage, and meet their legal requirements for safety. What’s more, to ensure this crucial training can be more easily accessed, it is available in both face to face and e-learning formats.

With significant safety, compliance and productivity gains to be made, it’s vital that your managers are equipped to reduce risk within your business. Take a look at our flexible training options today.

For further information on our Managing Forklift Operations training, click here.

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