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Forklift safety: A simple guide to UK rules and regulations

Forklift safety: A simple guide to UK rules and regulations

Forklifts require a lot of safety measures and thorough training to be able to operate them alone. 

In the UK, there are several rules and regulations that govern the operation of forklifts. You need to understand each one to ensure safety compliance in the workplace, as you could face penalties otherwise. 

At ForkLiftSkipMarket, we will brush you up on the UK rules and regulations for forklifts to prepare you for the task. Browse our forklift tipping skips whilst you’re here for high-quality, durable skips.

The UK regulations surrounding forklifts

The UK Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) states that all employees must be adequately trained, informed, instructed, and supervised for any machinery.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) also states that forklifts and other work equipment must be checked regularly, properly maintained, and inspected by employers. 

Appropriate PPE must always be worn when operating a forklift to prevent injury and to comply with employee safety standards.

Training and certification for forklift operation

In the UK, the training and certification requirements for forklifts follow the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER).

All employees should be trained by authoritative bodies, such as training providers recognised by relevant industry bodies. Forklift training involves:

  • Understanding the different types of forklifts.
  • The forklift's controls, instrumentation, and safety features.
  • Knowledge of inspection procedures.
  • Load handling, stacking, and manoeuvring in various workplace environments.
  • Pedestrian safety awareness.
  • Knowledge of emergency procedures.

This involves both practical and theoretical training where classroom and hands-on experience is required. Operators must take various assessments at the end of their training to demonstrate their competence before handling a forklift.

Safe operating practices for forklifts

Various practices need to be followed to ensure the safe operation of forklifts. This involves:

  1. Pre-operation inspection: This includes brakes, steering, tires, lights, controls, hydraulics, and any other critical components.
  2. Training and certification: Only trained and certified employees must operate forklifts.
  3. Load capacity and stability: The load capacity should never be exceeded, and the loads should always be centred and stable on the forks to prevent tipping.
  4. Speed control: Forklifts should be driven at safe and controlled speeds, especially when carrying heavy loads.
  5. Proper load handling: The load should always be tilted back, evenly distributed, and raised to a safe height before moving the vehicle.
  6. Pedestrian safety: Operators should be vigilant of pedestrians and use horns or warning signals when a hazard is detected.
  7. Clear visibility: The load must be kept at a height that doesn’t obstruct the visibility of the operator.
  8. Stacking and unstacking: The mast must be tilted back slightly to ensure a stable load.
  9. Parking and shutdown: When parking the forklift, the forks must be lowered, the brake must be engaged, and the forklift needs to be turned off.
  10. Seat belts: Seat belts must always be worn when operating the vehicle.
  11. Maintenance and repairs: Regular maintenance and checks are necessary to ensure the forklift is safe to use.
  12. Refresher training: Operators should undergo refresher training regularly to stay updated on safety practices.

Hazard identification and risk assessment

Knowledge of hazard identification and risk assessments is fundamental for forklift regulation and safety in the UK. 

Common forklift hazards include:

  • Operational hazards: Improper load handling, speeding, reckless driving, and uncontrolled forklift movement.
  • Environmental hazards: Uneven surfaces, poor lighting, congested work areas, and adverse weather conditions.
  • Mechanical hazards: Malfunctions, faulty brakes, hydraulic leaks, and worn tires.
  • Pedestrian hazards: Instances when a pedestrian is at risk of being struck or crushed, such as approaching too close to the vehicle.

Emergency procedures for forklifts

During forklift operations, emergencies can happen despite following all safety procedures. To prepare for this, the operator must learn the necessary emergency procedures and how to exercise them effectively. These include: 

1. Immediate response to accidents

Stop the vehicle immediately and turn off the engine. Assess the situation calmly and check for injury and the stability of the load. 

Don’t move any injured person unless there is immediate danger.

2. Alerting emergency services

Immediately call emergency services if anyone is injured or there is significant property damage.

Assign one member of staff to alert and guide the emergency services to the location.

3. Evacuation procedures

If there is a fire or chemical spill, evacuate everyone out of the building. Ensure that everyone is aware of the evacuation procedure and account for all staff members.

4. Containing the situation

If there are no major safety risks, take measures to prevent further damage or injury. This includes stabilising loads or using spill kits for any small leaks. 

Don’t move the forklift until it’s safe to do so.

5. Reporting the incident

Every forklift incident must be reported according to the UK Health and Safety Regulations. 

This must include detailed recollections, witness statements and CCTV footage, if possible.

6. Post-incident review and preventative measures

All incidents must be investigated to determine the cause. You must review and update any risk assessments or safety measures to prevent this incident from repeating in the future.

Provide refresher courses and training to update your employee's knowledge of and response to danger.

7. Forklift inspection and repair

Have the forklift involved in the incident thoroughly inspected by a qualified technician for signs of damage.

Repair any damages to ensure the forklift is safe for future operation.

Invest in a forklift skip you can rely on

At Forklift Skip Market, our skips are designed with safety and compliance in mind.

Made from durable materials and with numerous safety mechanisms in place, our skips are easy to use, providing efficiency for businesses both large and small. 

With various sizes and styles to choose from, our skips are compatible with different types of forklifts. Whether you need a galvanised skip or a lidded skip, we have something for every customer. 

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