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Why you need to be part of Safetember

07 September 2016

This year’s national fork lift safety month, Safetember, is a particularly important one. For the first time since the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) introduced its annual safety campaign in 2008, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that fork lift accidents in the UK are, once again, on the rise.

According to the HSE, of the estimated 1,000,000 Brits who work with or alongside forklift trucks, more than 1100 people were seriously injured were injured – or worse – in the last reported year.

Pedestrian peril

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the operators who are at the greatest risk from fork lifts. In more than half of all accidents (57%), the victim is a pedestrian.
Consequently, this year’s Safetember theme, ‘Make sure your mates get home safe’, seeks to raise awareness of everyone working around fork lift trucks.

FLTA chief executive Peter Harvey MBE explains: “Anyone who is in an area where fork trucks operate is at risk, be they a lorry driver, warehouse operative, wholesaler, retailer, customer, or member of the public.

“To ensure everyone’s safety, we need to make sure they’re aware of the dangers associated with lifting operations and work together to minimise the chance of an accident.”

“Crucially, this awareness does more than make them safer: it encourages all of us to take personal responsibility for creating and maintaining good practice.

“So, this September, we are encouraging anyone working with or alongside forklift trucks to look out and support their colleagues as part of our annual Safetember safety campaign.”

Be resourceful

Throughout Safetember, the FLTA will be unlocking a host of invaluable free resources on their website (www.fork-truck.org.uk) to help managers and supervisors raise fork lift truck safety awareness among their staff.

One such resource is the Hazard Perception Test, developed by official Safety Partners, Mentor Training. Ideal for ‘toolbox talks’ and training, this two-part quiz (available as a free download from the FLTA website) challenges participants to spot unsafe practice in depictions of a busy warehouse and yard.

The Association has also created eye-catching safety posters, bearing this year’s Safetember theme. Accompanying them are some of the FLTA’s most popular poster designs – freely available to download and print throughout September only.

That’s not all. Further free safety resources are made available each week, until the end of the month. Check the site regularly or subscribe to the FLTA mailing list to find out what’s in store.

Take the lead

This year the FLTA is keen to get as many employers on board as possible – their support is essential to deliver real and long-lasting change.
The HSE states: “Protecting the health and safety of employees or members of the public who may be affected by your activities is an essential part of risk management and must be led by the board.”

By supporting initiatives from the very top, management demonstrate a genuine commitment to safety – giving the focus and direction necessary to fully engage workers. 

Legally, health and safety law places the duty of care on organisations and employers. Directors can be personally liable when these duties are breached.
It all adds up to a clear mandate for managers to take both a collective and individual responsibility for tackling the persistently high level of fork lift truck accidents.
The first step

Safetember presents an excellent opportunity for managers and supervisors to start conversations about safety and initiate change across their sites.
Peter Harvey concludes: “Making sites safer requires a concerted effort which ensures lasting change in workplace attitudes and behaviours – an effort that involves engaging the whole of the workforce.

“Like all journeys this starts with a single step… and in this case it is getting involved with Safetember… engaging in discussions, exploring the expert guidance and resources available… and doing everything you can to ensure that fork lift accidents become an aberration rather than an everyday occurence.”

The Fork Lift Truck Association is the UK’s independent authority on fork lift trucks. For more information on Safetember and safe operations, visit www.fork-truck.org.uk or call 01635 277577.