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ForkliftFriday 14 February 2020

Forklift Injuries At Work: What You Need To Know

It goes without saying that forklift trucks and other heavy load vehicles are a significant workplace hazard and have the potential to do great harm to an individual. Over a quarter of all workplace injuries involve the misuse of a lift truck, a rate far more numerous than other types of loading vehicles such as HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicles) or LGVs (Large Goods Vehicles). Many of these incidents could have been prevented with adequate training or supervision. If you operate a forklift as part of your responsibilities, it is essential that you know the scope of your duties and the potential repercussions if you fail to behave responsibly. This knowledge will also help protect you if you personally suffer an injury from a forklift-related incident.

Although stringent legislation exists to safeguard employees, there are as many as five daily incidents nationwide that lead to life-changing injuries or, in the very worst cases, fatalities. More than half of these occurrences injure pedestrians and colleagues rather than the drivers themselves.

When operating a heavy vehicle, it is vital to recognise that you are taking the lives and wellbeing of those in your immediate vicinity into your hands. Some drivers, especially new starters, are blindsided by inexperience and the pressures of meeting deadlines, or are not trained to a sufficient level before starting their positions. As a driver, how aware are you of environmental hazards? Do you know how to navigate the blindspots in your working environment? Do you know the acceptable perimeter that needs to exist between the vehicle and other workers? Does your workplace follow Safe Site Standards? If it is not clear whether you can answer these questions, it is likely that further training is needed as soon as possible.

The HSE website has published an Acceptable Code of Practice document on their Managing Lift Trucks webpage. It lays out a minimum standard of operational practice that all drivers should follow, even if they only use the vehicles very occasionally. Employers have a duty to ensure that drivers have understood these regulations and an employee should never step into a vehicle without this awareness. Not only are you putting others at risk of serious harm otherwise, but you are leaving yourself open to personal injury and possible legal ramifications. It is not important whether this training is delivered by an in-house specialist or an external health and safety organisation, but it is essential that it happens before work commences. (Note: Whilst external training bodies do not have to be quality accredited by a recognised voluntary agency, this mark of expertise is a key notifier of excellent practice and should be considered when taking training decisions).

Forklift training is split into three categories. Basic training covers the ins-and-outs of safe and efficient forklift use. Specific job training will adapt that knowledge into the employee’s circumstance, highlighting the areas that are of particular importance for that role. Familiarisation training converts this knowledge into practice, ascertaining that the employee is applying the taught techniques on a daily basis. If you do not feel like you have received all parts of this required training, it is vital that you make management aware immediately. Refresher training is common, even for experienced team members, as practice is liable to change and standards are known to slip after long periods of disengagement with safety theory.

If you are the victim of a forklift-related accident at work, there are steps that should be followed to ensure that your bases are covered. In the event of an incident, it is essential that anyone hurt receives full emergency medical attention before any other considerations are addressed. Heavy duty vehicle accidents can cause significant permanent injury, and even if an individual claims that they are well enough to continue it is prudent that they are released from work and given adequate recovery time based on the advice of a medical professional. Not all injuries are immediately visible and can develop over time. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Afterwards, a detailed report needs to be collated to record the nature of the accident. This report needs to be included in the organisation’s accident book and potentially reported to the Health and Safety Executive if there is one. This should include comprehensive witness statements and photographs of the occurrence. This will strengthen any accident claims that need to be made and will help to ensure that changes are immediately made in response to the circumstances of the incident.

Swindon Accident Solicitors can offer further advice and support if you need to make a claim based on this type of incident. Please contact Swindon Accident Solicitors on 01793 425595 for further details on how we can be of assistance.

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