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Your responsibility to young workers – make sure they’re safe to start work

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Whether all forklift operators realise it or not, manoeuvring powerful, four tonne lift trucks at pace around a busy working environment is a big responsibility. As the operator, you’re accountable for the safety of those working around you on foot and, with many workplaces failing to include pedestrians in forklift safety awareness training, their safety really is in the hands of those in the driver’s seat.

It’s vital that your FLT operators have the relevant experience and maturity to work safely. This doesn’t mean they have to be of a certain age, they just need the relevant skills and knowledge to understand how to operate safely and why it’s crucial that they do so.

Too often we hear about young workers suffering avoidable injuries (or worse) because the relevant provisions hadn’t been made for their safety. Just last month we heard of a teenage boy on work experience who suffered a severed finger whilst using hydraulic machinery because he hadn’t received the proper training or supervision. Worse still, no first aid was provided immediately after the event.

Another recent case saw a teenager trapped under a heavy load, across the forks of a forklift truck, on their first day. The company in question was found to have failed to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessment, training, supervision or communication.

Meet your responsibilities in line with HSE guidance

As an employer, your moral and legal responsibility for your workers is the same whether they have been with you for 20 years or 20 minutes. Before anyone is put to work on your site, you must be sure they are ready to do so and the relevant measures are in place for their safety, including risk assessments and Safe Systems of Work.

With regards to lift truck training, the best way to ensure you have provided adequate guidance to any employee is to cover the three elements of training, as laid out in the HSE’s L117 Approved Code of Practice for Rider Operated Lift Trucks: basic, job-specific and familiarisation. Not only will this ensure they have the skills and knowledge to operate a lift truck, it will ensure they can safely operate their lift truck, in their working environment, doing the specific tasks their role requires.

Needless accidents, and their associated costs – potentially higher now than ever under the latest sentencing guidelines – can be easily avoided by ensuring the correct safety provisions have been made for all staff.

With an ever-aging workforce, it’s important that we look after the young workers we do have and show them that their contribution, and their welfare, is valued. If you meet your responsibilities as an employer and provide any additional supervision that staff need – especially while they’re finding their feet – you’ll be able to reap the benefits of a dynamic workforce, who can contribute to your business for years to come.

For more information on the three elements of training, click here to download a free copy of L117 Approved Code of Practice for Rider Operated Lift Trucks. Or you can contact us to discuss on 01246 555222.

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