With the Forklift Truck Association’s (FLTA) Safetember* Campaign fast approaching, appeals for support of the UK forklift industry’s annual safety month are building. This year’s campaign, “Look out for you mates”, focuses on those who work with forklift trucks but not as operators.

This year’s focus was brought into the minds of all who attended June’s National Fork Truck Safety Conference. Everyone came away aspiring to make worksites a safer place following guest speaker Lisa Ramos’s tragic experience.

“It’s your son’s 13th birthday and all you really want is the day to finish and your partner to pick you up so you can head home and start the celebrations. However, not long before you finish, as you are crossing the warehouse floor, you are brought to the ground by a two and a half tonne forklift truck.”

Unfortunately Lisa’s experience isn’t just a one off. A number of leading forklift training providers are now launching hard hitting campaigns in order to try and get their message across. Whilst there have been significant improvements to the UK’s safety record, the unfortunate fact remains that last year 1300 people were injured as a result of lift truck accidents…and worryingly, this is an increase on the previous year.

Further investigation reveals over half of those injured happen to be pedestrians working in the proximity of forklift trucks. So there is little wonder training organisations and the UK Forklift Truck Industry using, “Safetember”, are introducing harder hitting campaigns to try and help minimise accidents involving forklift trucks.

Creating awareness, introducing new safety initiatives and developing new training courses can only help to reduce the risk of accidents. There is no substitute for better training and awareness but what other options do companies have to reduce risk?

Separating the movement of forklift trucks and pedestrian workers is the most obvious answer. Building safety barriers and pedestrian walkways will significantly reduce the chance of collision. But unfortunately physical separation of forklift trucks and people is not always achievable in warehouse environments without major infrastructure re-organisation.

Far more companies now view technology as the solution to making their warehouse or factory a safer place. RFID (radio frequency identification) technology has become commonplace in warehousing auto ID applications in recent years. But now RFID technology is being used to help protect people in the work place and tag based safety systems are an essential part of many company’s health and safety tool kits.

Helping to make worksites a safer place within industries worldwide, ZoneSafe** have developed a range of RFID proximity warning and alert systems, helping to significantly reduce the risk of accidental collisions between forklift trucks and pedestrian workers.

Creating detection zones around vehicles, audible and visual alarms alert drivers to a pedestrian’s proximity to the vehicle. Pedestrian workers can also be made aware of an approaching forklift truck with a vibrating tag, alarm or flashing jacket – something really useful in noisy environments or low light conditions.

And with the development of RFID, proximity warning and alert systems have now evolved. Data can now be stored, sent and uploaded to the cloud allowing products like ZoneSafe the opportunity to offer a complete site safety solution. With the ability to manage your site safety from your phone laptop, tablet or PC, you can now identify areas of high risk viewing near miss data from the touch of a button.

In an age where technology can be at the forefront of safety, there is comfort knowing some companies use technology to good effect, to help reduce the risk of accidents within the workplace.

However, with forklift accidents on the rise, more needs to be done to safeguard pedestrians. High tech equipment is just part of the solution. But, combined with tuition, training and awareness, everyone can help to make significant improvements in safety between vehicles and pedestrian workers.

 

*This year’s Safetember campaign will focus on those who work with forklift trucks but not as operators. The theme is make sure your mates get home safe. So whether you’re an operator, a shelf stacker, even a managing director, your key aim for 30 days (and into the future) is to ensure your colleague’s safety. For more information visit www.fork-truck.org.uk/fork-lift-safety/safetember

**ZoneSafe Proximity Warning & Alert Systems help to significantly reduce the risk of accidents between vehicles and pedestrian workers. For more information visit www.zonesafe.net