When used safely and appropriately, forklifts are one of the most useful workplace vehicles, but unfortunately they are also one of the most dangerous. According to the Forklift Truck Association, there are over 1,300 forklift accidents in the UK every year – an average of five for every working day.
The dangers associated with the use of forklift trucks (FLTs) are often underestimated, but because of their size and weight, the injuries sustained are likely to be significant, life-changing and potentially fatal.
Anyone who works in the truck driving industry is very likely to encounter FLTs on a daily basis – whether it’s at a warehouse, workshop or factory.
To reduce the likelihood of being involved in an accident with one, it is important not to be complacent.
The 10 most common forklift truck accidents are:
- Driver crushed as result of truck tipping over
- Injured as result of cage falling off forklift blades (tines)
- Crushed between the forklift truck and shelving
- Trapped between overhead guard and mast
- Hand crush injury suffered by operator
- Person hit by moving forklift
- Non-operator’s foot ran over and crushed
- Non-operator struck by falling load
- Forklift truck overturns
- Injured in a fall from height
Unfortunately, most of the forklift accidents outlined above occur because of a lack of suitable training, poor supervision or unsuitable loading and unloading procedures.
As an experienced accident at work solicitor, I have handled lots of cases where an employer’s negligence has resulted in someone suffering from life-changing injuries.
I’ve also represented families who have lost loved ones because of tragic circumstances that were no fault of their own.
In all of these cases, this unnecessary pain and suffering could have been prevented had the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 been followed correctly.
What the law says about workplace accidents
According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), all workplaces must be safe and not cause a risk to the safety and health of visitors, contractors or employees.
A vehicle is classed as a place of work. And any employer who owns, leases, hires or borrows a forklift truck for work, must ensure it is fit for the purpose intended and safe to use. A preventative maintenance system can help to achieve this.
Forklift trucks also are classed as work equipment – and an employer must be certain that drivers have received the appropriate training and information to the vehicle safely and correctly. This includes carrying out any pre-use checks which are required.
If defects are found, employers are also required to have an effective reporting system so that they are rectified immediately – preventing the safety of others being put at risk.
Forklift safety guidelines that will help prevent accidents
To reduce the number of forklift accidents which happen each year, a significant culture change is needed to make everyone who works on or near to them fully aware of the potential dangers.
But following these 15 forklift truck safety tips could help to keep you and other people you work with safe:
When operating a forklift truck, you MUST:
- Carry out a pre-use check of the forklift truck
- Look all around the vehicle before moving off
- Always look in the direction of travel
- Travel with the load forks lowered, but clear of the ground
- Travel at a suitable speed for the location and load
- Watch out for pedestrians and obstructions
- Slow down at corners, doorways and entrances
- Avoid sudden stops or violent braking
- Always observe loading weight limits
- Never move an unstable or unsuitable load
- Never lift a person on the forks or on a pallet
- Always use a safe process when using working platforms
- Never stand on or near the controls to reach the load
- Never use mobile phones or hand-held device while operating
- Never use a forklift you know is not working properly
What to do in the event of a forklift truck accident at work
Sadly, workplace accidents will always happen. Hopefully, following the guidance outlined above will help reduce the chances of you suffering a forklift accident.
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident which was not your fault, you may be entitled to receive damages for any injuries or pain suffered as a result.
One member of my accidents at work team previously represented a client who suffered life-changing injuries and was unable to work again after his left leg became trapped between two forklift trucks.
Having proven that this injury was a direct result of his employers’ negligence, a substantial compensation package was secured which allowed the man to buy a single-storey home that was better suited to his new needs.
Although this was a particularly serious case, we regularly represent truck drivers and forklift operators who have been injured and are left unable to work.
Sometimes they only got in touch because they were worried about the impact that their loss of earnings would have on their family and overall quality of life.
If you, or someone you know has been affected by circumstances like this, it is totally unacceptable.
We regularly represent people run over or trapped by forklift trucks, injured by falling loads and those sustaining injury in the course of loading and unloading operations.
Don’t suffer in silence, get in touch and ask us to help obtain the compensation and justice you are legally entitled to.