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Avoid Stacking Up Accident Risk And Keep On Pallet Trucking!

17th December 2013
Without the humble wooden pallet and pallet truck in just about every goods warehouse around the UK, it’s unlikely that large scale consignments would be able to be so quickly and easily packed, loaded and delivered.

Accidents involving broken or empty stacked pallets, which cause minor injuries such as cuts, abrasions or bruising are commonplace and not infrequently, more serious injuries can also occur, which ultimately lead to a much larger accident compensation claim.

A recent example involved a 36 year old woman, who severely twisted one ankle and tore a ligament in the other, when she slipped on a pallet whose edges were concealed by a sheet of plywood. Intensive treatment and continuing complications also meant that she was away from work for a long period of time, leading to an injury claims payout of £30,000.

While forklift truck accidents are reported almost daily with 2010/2011 figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reporting a rise of 4 per cent, there are also numerous accidents caused by pallet trucks. The hand operated ”pumper” pallet truck is one of the most common pieces of equipment in any depot / warehouse yet it’s often found that few operatives have received formal training or are aware and familiar with specific safety regulations for the device.

As with any item of company machinery, an employer must make sure:

• The device is only used for its appropriate task.
• The workforce is trained and competent to know how to properly use the machine.
• The device functions correctly, is hazard–free and comes equipped with appropriate safety features.
• The machine's electricity can be quickly shut off in the event of an accident.
• Appropriate personal protective equipment is provided to the workforce.

As well as forklift and electric pallet truck accidents, where there are daily incidents caused by reversing, collisions, or even driving over a foot, incorrect handling of a manual pallet truck has often led to ankles or feet being seriously injured. Lack of visibility due to a high loaded pallet truck can cause edges of the moving consignment to crash into other goods or people.

However, a company employer has a legal duty to have an Employers Liability Insurance policy in place to cover their workforce for accidents and injuries. Under a ‘vicarious liability’ clause, an employer is still responsible to pay an accident claim for an injury caused by any member of the company workforce.