Safety By Numbers: Assessing Equipment

After the recent drives to ensure all staff members are competent and adequately trained in all areas of their safety process this Christmas, it should follow that there are similar campaigns to keep all equipment in good working order. Throughout the UK, four accidents involving fork lift or pump trucks occur every day, with this number rising over the busy festive season. As a result of these accidents, 25% end in hospitalisation or even death. This can be due to the aforementioned lack of safety procedures as well as inconsistent maintenance of all equipment.

There are basic rules in place which can help all employers improve the safety of their workforce and prolong the life span of their lifting and handling apparatus, including pallet trucks. These rules can be broken down into four key steps, which are easy to understand and simple to put into practice.

Risk Assessment All apparatus, whether it be an extendable ladder or an electric pallet truck, should to be subject to a thorough risk assessment before staff are allowed to operate it. Controlling and minimising risk is the key here, and it is important that both safe methods of work and appropriate records are maintained.

Workers should document all hazards they come into contact with, and should be trained in all aspects of detecting defects, inspecting their equipment and carrying out essential daily or weekly maintenance. Some of the most dangerous incidents which can be subject to risk assessment include the truck overbalancing due to too much cargo, hydraulic fluid leakages or the malfunction of improperly maintained wheels.

Training Any employee who will be operating certain pieces of equipment will need to possess the adequate licenses and training to be able to use whichever truck they are in charge of. Some pieces of equipment, such as hand pallet trucks, require only the bare minimum of training and no special licenses to operate, but other more specialised forms of handling equipment demand that theoretical and practical training be undertaken by the users. It is also recommended that refresher courses be taken every three years to incorporate any changes in legislation or safety practises which may have come into play since the last qualification was obtained.

Maintenance As covered in the risk assessment section, the maintenance of all types of handling equipment, including pallet trucks, forklift trucks and high lift pallet trucks, is crucial to its safe operation. As well as any checks specified by the employer, workers must also be prepared to carry out extra checks recommended by the manufacturer. The time between these inspections can vary in accordance with the working environment and how often the equipment is used, but the legal requirements state that a thorough examination is carried out on all trucks at least once per year.



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