Fork lift training: a million Britons in danger

Over 1.2 million workers in the UK could be at risk of a serious or even fatal accident because they have not been adequately trained to work near fork lift trucks.


The shocking findings were revealed by the Fork Lift Truck Association, the independent authority working to improve standards and safety, to open National Fork Lift Safety Week.


Every year, five to ten Britons are killed by fork lift trucks, and around four hundred are hospitalised with major injuries including amputations and crushing. Over a thousand more suffer accidents requiring at least three days’ recovery time.


Comparing figures from the Office for National Statistics and Skills for Logistics, the FLTA discovered that one in twelve UK employees regularly works near fork lift trucks – but fewer than half of these have received the minimum recommended training for their job


Workers at risk include not just fork lift truck operators, but also van and HGV drivers, warehouse workers, managers and other colleagues in closely associated roles.


FLTA chief executive David Ellison explains: “Even after recent safety improvements, fork lift trucks account for more serious injuries than any other workplace transport. It’s essential that anyone working near such potentially dangerous equipment is properly trained.


“We’re not just talking about fork lift operators. Around two thirds of accident victims are colleagues on foot – and of course managers can’t protect employees unless they’ve also had the right training to spot and eliminate risks. 


“That’s why we were concerned to see that 55% of logistics workers lack the basic skills for their job. If this extends to fork lift truck awareness, which we are sure it does, it’s no wonder these life-shattering accidents happen – literally every day.”


To help remedy the situation, this year’s National Fork Lift Safety Week focuses upon training.


Until the end of October, visitors to this website will be invited to download a free safety poster, complete a checklist to evaluate their own training arrangements, and view a presentation on the importance of ensuring supervisors are themselves properly trained.


David Ellison concludes: “All employees must have the right training to carry out their work safely. We hope to reach as many fork lift managers as possible to remind them about that.


“We believe providing proper, accredited training – for all relevant staff – is the single most significant action any employer can take to safeguard employees.


“When money is tight, you really need to think where priorities lie and ensure safety is not too far down the list.”


National Fork Lift Safety Week 2011 runs from 19th – 25th September. For more information, or to download free safety resources, visit the Safety Week pages