A Lancashire clothing firm has been fined £40,000 after a man was seriously injured when he was hit by a forklift truck.
A self-employed delivery driver suffered multiple leg fractures and a dislocated ankle as he collided with the vehicle while delivering goods. The 53-year-old had to be airlifted from the scene and spent a month in hospital because of his injuries. He has required multiple follow-up operations and, over a year later, has still not recovered sufficiently to be able to work and is also suffering from mental health issues due to his life-altering injury.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company had failed to ensure that there were adequate measures in place to ensure the safe segregation of delivery drivers from the unloading and loading activities, as the driver was not instructed to stand or wait in a safe area during the unloading of his vehicle. The dangers should have been identified by a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks.
Forklift trucks are a hazard when working alongside pedestrians. These six accident statistics highlight the dangers of forklift trucks working alongside people:
- 1 in 5 workplace fatalities are caused by a forklift truck or industrial vehicle.
- 27 people are killed in forklift truck accidents at work every year.
- 1 in 10 workplace fatalities are in the transportation and storage sector.
- You are 3 times more likely to be killed at work in the transportation and storage sector, where forklifts and industrial vehicles are more numerous
- 1,500 injuries are caused by forklifts and other industrial vehicles every year.
- 3 in 10 of these injuries are in the transportation and storage sector.
These accident statistics point to many reasons why forklift accidents can have the most serious consequences in industrial facilities. Particularly for facilities in the transportation and storage sector, where forklift numbers are greater and movement near pedestrians more frequent.
The mechanical workings and specifications unique to forklift trucks are another indicator of why forklift accidents have such severe consequences.
- They are deceptively small, but with their essential dense counterweight they weigh considerably more than much larger vehicles such as cars, vans and some lorries.
- In busy facilities with high volume targets, forklift speeds may be de-restricted allowing them to travel up to 18 mph. Even at restricted speeds, their weight and density can generate considerable impact force in an accident.
- Unlike a road vehicle, forklifts have no crumple zone. Their forks and back end are solid steel, so accidents can cause severe crush injuries and huge amounts of damage.
- Forklifts are counterbalanced with heavy weights in the rear to compensate for loads being raised high on the forks. Drivers may need time to adjust to handling this unfamiliar weight distribution.
- Forklift trucks are rear wheel turning, so their turning circle can be a risk as the rear of the vehicle swings outwards. This can result in impact at tight corners, such as the end of racking aisles.
- With their raised sitting position in the cabin, the line of sight for forklift drivers is different to other vehicle types. Their view can also be partly obscured when carrying loads on the front forks.
How can organisations reduce the risk of people being injured by a forklift?*
- Training | Improve driving standards
- Conduct daily inspections | The forklift trucks in your fleet need to be inspected daily. Checks on the following areas will identify potential accident risks.
- Risk assessment | Conduct a thorough risk assessment in accordance with pas 13
- Protection | Physical protection with safety barriers
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