How to keep forklift use to authorised operators only

22nd August 2018

In our previous blog post we stressed the importance of ensuring relevant staff are fully trained and authorised to use forklift trucks before they are allowed to begin operating on site.

But what about everyone else? Do you have measures in place to ensure unauthorised staff, contractors or visitors to site can’t use your MHE without permission?

After all, it’s all well and good training the right people but it’s also vital that you make sure only they have access to the equipment, to reduce the risk of accidents at the hands of untrained operators.

As per our last article, before you even think about authorising anyone to operate lift trucks on your site you must make sure they are fully trained and qualified to do so. With forklift accidents posing a real risk of serious injury (or worse), not just for operators but particularly those working alongside them, it’s vital that you ensure your operations are exclusively carried out by authorised persons only.

This is where managers and supervisors have a critical role to play. As per the HSE’s Approved Code of Practice (L117), make sure you think about the following, and engage your managers to ensure the relevant control measures are in place, communicated and upheld.

Restricted access systems

You should implement a system that removes the opportunity for anyone without authorisation to use your trucks. This could be as simple as taking tight control over who can access truck keys. L117 recommends that keys are kept in a secure location, under the control of a responsible person until they are required and once issued, should stay with the operator until the end of the work period.

Alternatively, you can choose a more hi-tech method, such as PIN keypads or programmable fobs. Not only do keypads and fobs make it more difficult for unauthorised individuals to access your forklift trucks but, in the event that this does occur, you will also be able to identify whose code or fob was used.

Leave trucks secure

To reduce the risk of unauthorised use, accessible trucks should not be left unattended… even if only briefly. When trucks are not in use, they should be safely parked and shut down (where possible, somewhere secure or supervised), with keys removed and returned or keypads de-energised. L117 also recommends that on LPG trucks, if the truck is to be left for some time, the gas supply should be shut off.

As a manager, vigilance is key here. Remember that this workplace is your workplace and as such, you are dutybound to ensure it is kept safe. Restricting forklift use to authorised persons only not only protects your staff but anyone who has access to site, including customers and particularly visiting delivery drivers who often wish to stay in close proximity to their vehicles whilst they are being loaded.

Don’t forget visitors and contractors

If you have visiting drivers or contractors on site, it should be routine to confirm that they have adequate training, backed by sufficient site knowledge before they are allowed to operate lift trucks on your site.

As a supplementary point, the same preparation should be true if any of your operators find themselves needing to use lift trucks on someone else’s site. Ensure they understand that they must abide by the safety policies of the site they are visiting, including only operating with authorisation. But, by the same token, make sure they know that if they don’t feel they have the training to safely use equipment provided by the site, that they should contact their manager before attempting to do so. Familiarisation with the truck/site is just as key in this case as it would be for visiting drivers on your site. Ensure provisions are in place to keep your people safe, wherever they are required to work.

All too often we hear news reports citing a lack of training and supervision as contributing factors to otherwise preventable accidents and injuries. This should be reason enough to ensure your site’s control measures are in place and fully functioning. But not only will restricted access reduce risk, it will also ensure you’re complying with your responsibilities under L117.

So send a clear message with relevant control measures and monitoring from your managers – the unauthorised use of forklift trucks is dangerous and unacceptable.

For further information on safely managing forklift operations, please get in touch.


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