We have known for a long time that fork lift truck operations can pose significant risks if not properly managed; however the risks are too often overlooked. We find many employers around the country who seem unaware of the risks posed and therefore fail to implement even the basic levels of control such as:
- Using trucks that are suitable for the purpose;
- That trucks are properly maintained;
- The operators are properly trained; and
- There are systems to separate people away for truck operating areas.
Because of these failings and because such trucks pose such a high level of risk when things go wrong, they invariably go badly wrong. Recent cases have shown this and also that the courts are ramping up the fine levels on firms. These have included:
- Cargo Services (UK) Ltd who were fined £110k + £60k in costs for failures to separate vehicles and pedestrians, and failing to properly maintain the trucks. The result was a worker being knocked over and needing to have his leg amputated.
- Cammell Laird who were fined £120k + £12k costs for failures to train truck operators and not having robust procedures in place. The result was the death of a welder.
Both of these companies have since put in place suitable forklift truck operating procedures to prevent such events occurring again. The concern is why it has to take such drastic events before employers sit up and take notice? No amounts of fines or compensation will repair what has happened.
What is clear though is that the courts are sending out a clear message that failures to control forklift truck operations properly is likely to prove very costly to businesses in future.