National Fork Lift Safety Conference 2016

Safety managers reveal measures that transformed safety on their sites

On 29th June 2016, delegates from across the UK, and across all industries, converged on the Heart of England Conference & Events Centre for the Fork Lift Truck Association’s National Fork Lift Safety Conference.

The theme of this year’s conference, ‘Leadership & Ownership’, reflected the FLTA’s efforts to inform managers and supervisors of their responsibilities for the safety of the workers under them – a message firmly promoted by the FLTA’s newest resource, Safer Site Pro.

The Conference – sponsored by leading equipment manufacturer Jungheinrich UK, and supported by media partner, SHD Logistics magazine – furthered the remarkable success of previous conferences by continuing to focus on real-life, peer-to-peer presentations and case studies on fork lift truck safety. Speakers from a range of industries shared their own experiences of FLT operations in their respective fields, offered practical advice and tips on best practice and showed attendees how they had improved on-site safety.

FLTA Chief Executive Peter Harvey opened proceedings by welcoming delegates and setting out the scale of the safety issue faced by fork lift managers and supervisors across the UK. It was then time for the Conference proper to get underway…

In a powerfully emotional presentation Lisa Ramos, who lost her leg in a fork lift accident, delivered a heartfelt speech about the real-life consequences of breaches in site safety. The moved audience then heard Lisa’s partner and former-colleague lend his own, no-less- emotional, perspective.

Next onstage, Peter Scott of Jungheinrich drew attention to the crucial, but often overlooked “third element” in fork lift safety: the engineer. Often working alone at night and very often working at height, there are more than 5000 engineers working on customer premises in the materials handling sector. Peter also revealed details of a new initiative being launched by Jungheinrich – in conjunction with the Fork Lift Truck Association – that will focus on service engineer safety.

A great conference event and extremely informative.
  -Tony Gallagher, Continental Tyre Group-

Alan Craddock from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) presented his keynote address on the real world challenges facing delegates. Drawing on a recent review of dangerous occurrences, Alan shone a spotlight on the importance of encouraging, establishing and maintaining safety ownership in the workplace and looked at issues associated with keeping pace in a changing landscape.

There followed an enlightening presentation by Stuart Taylor from Mentor FLT Training. In a talk that chimed with Lisa Ramos’ earlier presentation, Stuart highlighted the many benefits to be gained from adopting a holistic approach to training, one which includes everyone on site – not just fork truck operators.

The audience were then shown Mentor’s latest safety video, a hard-hitting reconstruction in which a British fork lift operator describes the accident in which he severely injured his friend and colleague. Lisa led an enthusiastic round of applause for the powerful footage.

Combilift’s Martin McVicar explained to delegates the principles and various causal factors of fork lift overloading. He went on to offer best practice advice, underlining the importance of proactive reinforcement.

Martin revealed how other industries had approached the issue and proposed that, in future, all trucks should be fitted with a strain gauge and cut-out to ensure loads are safely within the vehicle’s capacity.

After a break for coffee and networking, the Conference resumed with Dave Sparrow of the Association of Industrial Truck Trainers (AITT) explaining the significant benefits of the Accrediting Bodies Association (ABA) has had since inception – both to its employers and to wider workplace safety standards.

Consistently hailed as the most insightful part of any FLTA Safety Conference, the Safe Site presentations allow businesses, recognised for their successes in improving site safety, to share their experiences and knowledge. This year’s presentations certainly didn’t disappoint…

A very informative conference... we are look forward to similar events in the future
  -Ute Fillipone, I.D. Systems-


Of particular interest was Graham’s development of more than 40 videos that visually demonstrate how every forklift-related task should be performed – a game-changing safety initiative in an environment where truck operators may have little command of English or are unable to read or write.First up, Graham Andrews of Heineken UK, described the initiative that won the Safe Site Award at this year’s FLTA Awards for Excellence. The remarkable ‘Perfect Forklift Experience’ project successfully instilled a sense of ownership in their workforce and reduced repair costs at their Hereford plant by 95%... for less than £100.

Akiko Bell of Mitsuibishi Electric reported how the company had responded to a series of near misses on-site by holding a worker forum to discuss aspects of FLT safety. This evolved into something much bigger. Now, the company reviews video footage of fork lift operations in order to implement relevant improvements – including signage, designated walkways, safety posters, and an L117 awareness workshop.

Last but not least, Patrick Gallagher from The Bury Black Pudding Company’s explained how they had implemented an in-house training programme for staff members working alongside fork trucks. Using photos of real life accidents and injuries, BBPC staff were left in no doubt as to the importance of maintaining awareness and following safe protocol around forklifts.

SHD Logistics editor, Peter MacLeod, then chaired a Q&A in which the audience could to pose their questions to all the morning’s experts. This included a particularly interesting discussion about how to ensure the safety of workers with poor English literacy – an issue that Heineken had cleverly tackled on its UK site.

Guest speaker, Jo Salter, the UK’s first female fast jet pilot, gave the last talk of the day. A highly driven, motivational figure, Jo recounted some fascinating stories from her life. With these inspirational words fresh in their minds, attendees headed for lunch, before heading home.

Association Chief Executive, Peter Harvey, said: “This year’s Safety Conference was a great success. Delegates were treated to some truly thought-provoking presentations and I’m sure everyone left with some great ideas and the motivation to implement some strategies on their own sites. Perhaps we’ll even see some of the companies in attendance this year, presenting their own initiatives here, in the future.”


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