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Creating an Effective Forklift Safety Action Plan:

4 Tips for SHEQ Managers

A forklift safety action plan is a critical tool designed for trained and qualified operatives and supervisors. SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment, and Quality) Managers have a responsibility to ensure that all personnel possess the knowledge and skills needed to efficiently carry out their work within established safety guidelines. A safety plan should not be considered a replacement for training; instead, it should be utilized by those who have the required training.

Your plan should encompass various types of forklifts and machinery that warehouse staff may encounter in your premises. Although your warehouse may primarily use one or two types of forklifts, including others in your safety plan serves as a precaution for potential future needs, such as leasing or hiring new vehicles. This foundational preparation streamlines the process when acquiring new equipment and provides more comprehensive induction for new employees.

Safety concerns for SHEQ managers regarding forklift operations include interactions with pedestrians, fire security, overturning prevention, loading protocols, and surface management. While these are critical components, your plan should also incorporate site-specific operation areas, stock, and general work practices.

Recent statistics reveal that forklift-related accidents are the most common type of workplace transport accident in the UK, accounting for 25% of such accidents, equivalent to five incidents daily, making forklifts the most hazardous of all goods vehicles. Approximately 1,300 workers are hospitalized each year due to forklift accidents. These statistics emphasize the importance of a community-focused approach to safety planning.

Your safety plan should align with existing policies, particularly those related to your Competency Framework, Resourcing, and Occupational Health.

Creating an effective safety plan requires a SHEQ manager well-versed in forklift operation principles to anticipate potential incidents resulting from misuse, carelessness, or chance. To assist you in developing your action plan, we’ve outlined four key points that should not be overlooked.

1. Know Your Liability

Commercial pressures often conflict with SHEQ department objectives, highlighting the importance of robust systems that ensure smooth communication between SHEQ and other departments. Effective policies and procedures are vital in minimizing legal and financial risks in the event of workplace accidents. The company is legally responsible for employee safety while they’re at work. This responsibility includes ensuring adherence to sick pay policies in case of work-related injuries. Even if an accident results from employee misconduct, negligence, or malice, the company may still be held accountable. However, if the investigation reveals the employee’s full culpability, no claim can be made against the company. The company is more likely to be held fully responsible if the accident results from inadequate training, equipment, an unsafe working environment, or unclear policies.

Given the severity of forklift accidents, characterized by the vehicle’s weight and limited visibility, it’s essential to learn from each accident’s circumstances and use this knowledge to enhance your safety plan.

4 Tips for SHEQ Managers, chartwise, chartwise uk

2. Make Use of the Latest Safety Technology

Many forklift-related accidents are attributed to long-term occupational health hazards that often go unmonitored. A company’s duty of care includes addressing both mental and physical well-being. SHEQ managers should vigilantly extend this duty of care to address unseen hazards in warehouse activities. Several technologies are available for monitoring, assessing, and addressing occupational health hazards. Implementing these technologies can improve employee morale, increase productivity, and minimize the risks associated with long-term health issues.

3. Include Clear Procedures for Pedestrian Interaction

Pedestrians are generally not trained to interact with forklifts, and they may not be aware of the associated hazards. It is crucial to manage their interactions with forklifts in detail. This is achieved through a comprehensive traffic management plan, designed to protect pedestrians from vehicle and machinery-related risks. You should have dedicated procedures to ensure pedestrian safety, mirrored in your forklift safety plan. All employees must be trained in this aspect during their induction and receive regular refresher training.

4. Ensure a Robust Reporting System Is in Place

Incident reporting is crucial, and a well-defined and effective reporting system is vital. Incident reports should be completed by any staff member for events that disrupt the workplace, pose significant risks to people or property, impact systems or operations, or bring negative publicity to the company. There are four types of incidents that should be reported: sentinel events, near misses, adverse events, and no-harm events. Your forklift safety action plan must outline the necessary steps for reporting incidents, including what to report, when to report, what to include, and who to notify. A separate policy document should be created detailing the procedure in full.

Incorporating these four key areas into your safety plan and tailoring it to your business’s unique requirements will help enhance the safety of warehouse staff and pedestrians. Creating a comprehensive, customized plan may require input from various stakeholders, including warehouse managers, staff, and directors. If you require further discussion on the specifics of creating such a report, feel free to schedule a consultation with Chartwise.

In Summary

By addressing these key areas, you can develop an effective forklift safety action plan that promotes the safety and well-being of warehouse staff and minimizes risks. However, this plan should be tailored to your specific business and consider the practices of each site within your organization. Your safety plan should be a dynamic document, regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in equipment, regulations, and best practices.

If you’re ready to create a comprehensive and customized forklift safety action plan, don’t hesitate to reach out to Chartwise for expert guidance and support. Your commitment to safety is an investment in the well-being of your employees and the success of your business.

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