Forklift accidents seem to be always spiking in injury reports and accident claims. It’s been estimated that more than 8,000 injuries involving forklifts are reported every year, of which, around 400 are recorded as serious and a further 12, as fatal. (Forklift Truck Association)
Between 2010/2011, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recorded a 4 per cent rise in the number of forklift accidents as well as reporting that large goods vehicles and fork lift trucks were “the most common agents of major injury”, together accounting for almost 4 in 10 injuries.
In the same period, HSE found that forklift accidents accounted for more than 800 over-3-day injuries and overall, more than a fifth of non-fatal workplace transport injuries involved a forklift truck (19 per cent of major injuries and 24 per cent of over-3-day injuries)
An increasing number of avoidable accidents consistently show inadequate company training, lack of risk assessment or the presence of a supervisor. There are often many daily, minor incidents involving forklifts working in restricted spaces, catching the corners or sides of bulky goods, dropping pallets or high stacked items - or even reversing into a co-worker.
However, many reported forklift injuries involve failure to implement a safe working system to prevent a driver or a co-worker from attempting to use the truck in an inappropriate / dangerous manner.
A most recent case involves the prosecution of a North Wales haulage company who failed to carry out the necessary procedures, which would have prevented an employee from receiving serious fractures following a fall from a forklift.
According to the HSE investigation, the employee had decided to carry out repairs on a lorry trailer by climbing on to a wooden pallet, which had been raised two metres off the ground by a forklift truck. When he asked a colleague to be lowered down, the forklift truck suddenly jerked backwards, causing him to fall with injuries sustained to both lower limbs.
It was found that the work had “not been properly planned”, the worker had “not been provided with suitable safety equipment” to carry out the task and the company had failed in its duty to properly monitor and supervise its workforce. HSE also said that provision of a “permanent gantry or a cherry-picker for routine repairs” on its sizeable road fleet could have been implemented instead.
In court the company was found guilty of breaching Regulations 4(1), 5 and 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was issued with a £19,000 fine including costs.