Why does my company need to train its operators?
It is estimated that each year 10% of all investigated accidents involving lift trucks are caused largely by the lack of operator training, resulting in injury to operators and to those around them (Health & Safety Executive (HSE) figures).
- As an employer, you have an obligation to ensure that all operators who use work equipment are trained to approved standards, and that their supervisors are also adequately trained.
- To quote directly from the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations section 9:
"Every employer shall ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training for purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using the work equipment, any risks which such use may entail and precautions to be taken.
Every employer shall ensure that any of his employees who supervises or manages the use of work equipment has received adequate training for purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using the work equipment, any risk which such use may entail and precautions to be taken."
- In any industry, there is always risk. Work related accidents can happen even in the most safety conscious of companies. These accidents, some fatal, cause suffering for the people involved and also for their dependants.
- They also create a heavy cost on the employer's business - even an incident not involving injury may result in costly damage to trucks, buildings, fittings and to the loads being handled.
What Could Happen if you do Nothing?
Failure to train your operators could be considered to be:
- A breach of PUWER 1998 (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) or a breach of LOLER 1998 (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations)
- There is the very real possibility that if there is an accident, and the Health & Safety Executive bring a prosecution to court, your company could be found to be negligent in discharging its duties under the Health & Safety at Work Act. This could mean that your company insurance could be invalidated. Ultimately the directors could be found to be personally liable and incur unlimited fines.
- The potential for adverse publicity, should a company be convicted, and the subsequent loss of goodwill and business should be deterrent enough to ensure that good standards of health and safety training are maintained.
What Can You Do?
- Employers should not allow anyone to operate mechanical handling equipment, even on a very casual basis, if they have not satisfactorily completed basic training and testing.
- Training, followed by regular monitoring of performance of your operators, is by far the best way to promote safer use of mechanical handling equipment, and as you now know, the omission to train your personnel could be a very real and costly mistake for you to make.
- Implementing an effective on-going training programme is therefore not only desirable, it is a legal necessity, and is the first step in reducing damage and injury to key personnel.
The need for periodic re-assessment of fork lift operators to ensure safety of operation is clearly established by the HSC Code of Practice (L117 para 47) and the guidance provided by PUWER 98 regulation 9 (L22 para. 188) concerning the need to provide refresher training.
The Association of Industrial Truck Trainers has issued this statement with regard to refresher training. 'It is our view that employers should continuously monitor the performance of their operators to ascertain whether they might need refresher training (typical indicators are regular near misses, accidents or consistently unsafe working practices).
- Refresher training should always be carried out following an unsafe incident whilst operating lift trucks (or other workplace transport) before the operator is permitted to restart using that piece of equipment.
- As it is recognised (by PUWER 98) that even if there is not an incident, there can be a decline in skills (particularly if equipment is only used infrequently) then refresher training should be carried out at periodic intervals to ensure safety in operation.
- The frequency of refresher training must reflect the operational risks that exist in different applications, but it is unlikely that any operation using fork lift trucks can afford to go more than five years between refresher training and retesting and every three years would be preferable. For particularly hazardous operations, bi-annual refresher training and retesting should be considered'.
- As a free service to you, when you book with us, we will send you a reminder every year for all delegates from your company who are due for a refresher assessment. This should help with the ongoing review of your operators' skills.
(For more information, see the Health and Safety Executive website: www.hse.gov.uk)
Useful publications are:
• Safe Use of Work Equipment Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
Approved Code of Practice And Guidance
HSE Code L22
ISBN Code 0-7176-1626-6
• Safe Use of Lifting Equipment
Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998
Approved Code of Practice and Guidance
HSE Code L113
ISBN Code 0-7176-1828-2
These publications can be purchased from HSE Books (Tel: 01787 881165)
• Safety Inspections Of Industrial Lift Trucks
This publication can be purchased from British Industrial Truck Association (BITA)
(Tel: 01344 623800).
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