Every year there are many reportable injuries that involve fork lift trucks. These injuries impose a heavy cost on the employer’s business. Even an incident not involving injury may result in costly damage to trucks, buildings, fittings and goods.

More often than not fork-lift truck accidents are the result of a driver error or misuse of the machine. Driver training and tests of competence and ability are essential in reducing damage and injury. Other hazards that contribute to accident causation include selection of the wrong lift truck for the intended work, poor lighting in the work place, and badly maintained and uneven floor surfaces.

Employers are required to ensure the health and safety of their workers and others from the risks of using fork-lift trucks in the course of their business. To meet this requirement employers are obliged to assess the risks to health and safety from fork lift truck operations. Employers must ensure that the fork-lift truck is suitable for the tasks intended, built to recognised standards and fully maintained. Most fork-lift trucks must be provided with roll-over protection and seat belt restraints.The truck must be used within the parameters and limitations specified by the supplier.

Drivers must be trained and tested to the standards set out in an Approved Code of Practice. Employers must consider the workers’ training alongside their abilities and if they are certain of their competence authorise them to operate a lift truck in the course of their work. Their competence should be periodically reviewed.

Legislation also requires that fork-lift trucks and their attachments receive thorough periodic tests and examinations. The safe working load should be clearly marked on the fork-lift truck and all attachments.