Health and safety – the risks posed by forklift trucks

by Tim Bishop on October 10, 2013

There is extensive health and safety regulation surrounding the use of forklift trucks as well as numerous guidelines provided from the Health and Safety Executive. Employers also receive a great deal of support from trade organisations such as the National Plant Operators Scheme and the Industrial Truck Trainers. Given all of this guidance combined with the legal obligation that all employers have to protect the health and safety of all employees at work, it seems bizarre that there are still close to 8,000 accidents involving forklift trucks in workplaces around the country every year according to HSE statistics. Indeed, forklift truck accidents account for a quarter of all transport accidents in UK workplaces which demonstrates that employers are not doing enough to keep their employees safe from injury in the workplace.

Despite all of the guidance and legislation related to the health and safety of forklift trucks as well as the excellent training resources available to employers, the safety of workers is not a given and that is more often than not due to negligence on the part of employers. In order to be effective, employers must actively engage with the regulations and guidelines rather than simply viewing them as an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. The HSE recently conducted research into forklift trucks and found that the employers who admitted concerns about the safety of such vehicles also reported that the protection of their employees at work was greatly aided by the introduction of comprehensive training programs and the segregation of pedestrians from areas in which the forklifts were being used. This is hardly rocket science and it shows how easy it is to protect workers.

Worryingly, the same survey discovered that over 40% forklift truck operators had not been subject to background checks for safety training from managers or supervisors. Under the Health and Safety Commission’s Approved Code of Practice employers are required to give employees permission in writing to use a forklift as a bare minimum following the completion of training. Whilst this is a good idea in theory, it appears that employers are ignoring it in practice and the consequences could quite literally be deadly.

The main cause for the terrible numbers of forklift accident related injury and deaths is negligence on the part of employers. 7 in 10 of those injured and killed are in fact pedestrians – which should make it easier for employers to try and get to the root of the problem; however, this does appear to have happened. When forklift trucks are not properly maintained or are used in an unsafe manner, both pedestrians and operators can be put in great danger. Any number of injuries could be sustained as a result which is why employers cannot take shortcuts when it comes to forklift truck health and safety.

Have you sustained an injury in a forklift truck accident at work? Do you believe that your employer failed to take the steps necessary to prevent the accident occurring? If so, you may find that you are entitled to claim compensation. If so, make sure you get good claims legal advice from specialist work accident solicitors.

Tim Bishop is senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – a law firm with a team of specialist Work Accident Claims Solicitors. Click here for more information about making a work injury compensation claim, visit their website at or call them on 01722 422300.

Tim Bishop
Having qualified as a Solicitor in 1986, Tim Bishop is a legal entrepreneur who owns leading law firm Bonallack & Bishop Solicitors. Find out why you should choose Bonallack & Bishop Solicitors: Visit
Tim Bishop

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