News items relating to forklift trucks

National Fork Lift Truck Safety Month

The Fork Lift Truck Association have announced National Forklift Safety Month. Press release below.

forklift safety monthFork lift trucks remain the UK's most dangerous type of workplace transport by quite a distance. It is widely accepted that the causes of fork lift truck accidents never really change - with some observers suggesting that addressing the issues of operator visibility and pedestrian segregation, would reduce accidents dramatically.

What’s really needed though is a permanent change in awareness, attitudes and culture. This approach will be reflected in the FLTA’s Safetember Safety Month campaign, which has increased in scope from a week to thirty days in order to maximise engagement: across every business sectors, every job function and in every part of the UK. 

We will be urging every company that operates FLTs to implement the changes necessary to give workers the freedom to report bad practice in a genuinely blame-free environment.

Everyone has the right to be safe at work – the place, after all, where most of us spend a third of our lives. Last year, fork trucks were involved in no fewer than 800 accidents, most resulting in traumatic injuries that will change their lives and those of their families and employers forever.

A silent but widespread obstacle to site safety is the shared acceptance of bad habits – where potentially dangerous practices become the norm. Often it is because it has become a well-established shortcut that is disregarded because nothing bad has happened… so far. Or, more ominously, it can persist because the people who spot bad practice do not feel confident or able to report them for fear of being ignored, socially excluded or worse.

Recent statistics show that only one in three employees speak up. Even more shocking is that 64% of those who witnessed unsafe practices – and did not report them – was either a manager or a supervisor. This failure to highlight and correct unsafe conditions around FLT operations allows these dangers to continue despite the inevitability of eventual injury or accident – and it cannot continue.

In every other aspect of our lives, endangering or inconveniencing others is simply not an acceptable part of our culture. When driving, we have strict rules – with immediate feedback – that modifies and improves our behaviour: police presence, speed cameras, other road users honking or flashing their lights… all provide clear and immediate feedback that our behaviour is not acceptable. They are part of our shared values.
Oddly, this ethos is almost entirely abandoned at work, when the consequences of bad practice are every bit as bad.

What is needed is a back-to-basics, practical approach that introduces that same social and moral rigour into the workplace… and actively keeps it there. Perhaps the most fundament change that must be effected is encouraging everyone to take ownership of safety on their site, highlighting potentially dangerous practices in a shared awareness of risks, hazards and near misses (accidents are usually serious and acted upon).

The aim is to establish a self-policing environment where bad practice is simply not tolerated by the community.
Many doubted that the banning of smoking in the workplace would persist because the habit was so ingrained… but the acceptance and subsequent change of attitudes has been so profound that a breach would evoke a strong response from colleagues. What’s to stop us achieving that same consensus for on-site safety?

As evidenced by the finalists in the FLTA Safe Site Award, there are a significant (and growing) number of enlightened organisations of every size where good safety culture is so entrenched that colleagues feel free to speak about bad practice in an open and honest way.
During Safetember we will be presenting and discussing practical ways to build the framework necessary to make this culture shift at any site that operates one fork truck or one hundred.  

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