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Forklift trucks can be a particular danger in the workplace. In order to use a forklift truck you need to have a special license, so firstly never go on a forklift truck unless you are authorised by your current employer and you have the correct license.
Just because in your last job you used a forklift, does not mean you can use one in your current job.
There are many considerations with forklift trucks, they go forwards and backwards, turn on a very tight turning circle and the forks pose unique risks of injury.
Forklifts usually have alarms, beepers and lights to say that they are reversing, but maybe these lights are broken, the alarms are not sounding for some reason or maybe there is a lot of background noise, you just don’t hear it. When you are approaching a forklift truck, make sure the driver can see you and has acknowledged that you are there from a distance.
Never go anywhere near the front of the forklift or wherever the load is. Something could fall off the pallets and hit you or you could be crushed as the load is being lowered down. Whenever you are anywhere near a forklift truck, you should also make sure you follow all of the workplace protocol and practices.
This usually includes the wearing of high visibility jackets and other personal protective equipment. If you wear these it is much easier for the operator on the forklift truck to actually see you.
It is also very important to watch out for any roads or tracks in your workplace where forklift trucks are operating. It may be that you are not allowed to walk anywhere near them. There may also be warning signs to tell you that forklifts are operating in that area. These are normally a yellow triangle with a picture of a forklift on. There may be other instructions underneath the sign telling you what you can and cannot do.
In the UK in 2007 and 2008, 65 people were killed as a result of vehicle accidents. A further 1800 people were seriously injured. These figures are very high and are something that could easily be reduced. Vehicle accidents are not just people being hit by vehicles, these can be people falling off of vehicles, or being hit by items that were on a vehicle.
Another way in which people could be injured is if a lorry could tip over or lose its load and good planning will reduce the risks of this happening or if it did happen, reduce the risk of someone being hurt.
Ways of keeping people safe can be having proper areas where vehicles can go and people are not allowed to go, clear well-positioned signs, white or yellow lines on the road that tell vehicles exactly where they can go and the direction of travel. Inadequate separation of vehicles and people is the usual reasons for accidents to occur.
Other areas of concern are blind spots. A blind spot is where the driver cannot actually see an area due to his vehicle blocking their view. This may be you behind a lorry and he can’t see you, or maybe he is reversing and is just relying on his mirrors.
If you can’t see the driver’s mirrors, then there is no chance of the driver being able to see you either. Some vehicles are fitted with CCTV which can help reduce this problem.
The use of personal protective equipment is very important in reducing vehicle accidents and the main item will be high visibility clothing. We are not just looking at lorries and lorry areas where people can get hurt, this can also happen in car parks. You may well be coming I out of your car in the morning or at night and you get hit by a vehicle, or you hit somebody else or someone else’s vehicle.