Forklifts are a common part of many workplaces, however, managing forklift workers and ensuring that health and safety is maintained can be confusing for many managers.
According to recent statistics, forklifts are the most dangerous form of transport to use in the workplace. 25% of workplace injuries that are caused by transport including Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) and Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) are caused by forklifts.
In many if not most cases, these accidents can be avoided.
There are misconceptions around forklift workers, training and how it fits into an overall health and safety strategy and in this weeks’ blog, we want to answer some common questions about forklifts in the workplace.
#1 Do new workers need to be trained?
There are several pieces of legislation and regulations that require employees to be trained before operating workplace transport. This includes section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999).
By not ensuring that workers who are operating a forklift have proper training then you are breaking the law and putting others at risk.
#2 Is there a minimum age to use a forklift?
An employee has to be above the minimum age to leave school before they can use a forklift unless it is in a port where they have to be at least 18 years of age.
There are specific regulations that deal with young people at work and extra things need to be taken into consideration – the HSE has a detailed guide.
#3 Do you need to send employees on refresher training?
Even though the law doesn’t necessarily require employee’s to refresh their forklift training at set periods, it is good practice to ensure that everyone knows how to operate one safely.
Experienced workers need to be reassessed to confirm that they are complying with health and safety standards. Also, any employee’s that have been involved in accidents or near misses should also undertake a reassessment to maintain safety throughout the workplace.
#4 Is there a medical assessment that workers need to pass?
There aren’t any specific regulations that require workers to pass a medical assessment to operate a forklift although the DVLA fitness for driving guidelines is useful to follow.
Risk assessments should be carried out on an individual basis for each employee in relation to their medical history and any issues that could impact their ability to drive a forklift safely.
Operating forklifts safely in the workplace
Forklifts are an essential part of many businesses particularly in warehouses and within the construction sector.
Maintaining safety can be a challenge especially when there is a lot going on in the one space. For managers what is required and what they need to do for employee’s who operate a forklift can be confusing and there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there that we have attempted to address.
Forklifts can be very safe and with proper training, re-assessments and individual risk assessments then the likelihood of an incident happening is low.