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March 11, 2020

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Forklift safety

Forklift safety law and you

Overwhelmed by forklift safety regulations? Forklift training provider Mentor offers an easy guide to key legislation to help employers, operators and managers meet their legal responsibilities.

Forklift truck InspectionIn order to ensure that lift trucks are used safely and efficiently, it is essential that all those working on or around them understand their responsibilities under the UK’s various safety laws. The primary, overarching piece of legislation is the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASAWA). It forms the basis for all UK Health and Safety Law, and finding yourself on the wrong side of it could cost you dearly.

In this guide, Mentor summarises important sections of the Act, and offers helpful tips for keeping up with legal obligations.

Responsibilities as an employer

Vitally, under the HASAWA, employers have a general duty of care to their employees whilst they are at work. This also applies to anyone else on site who could be affected by operations, such as visitors or contractors. Employers must provide a suitable working environment, as well as appropriate training, equipment and Safe Systems of Work. They must also ensure that their operations or any duties asked of their employees do not put their health and safety at risk.

The HASAWA states that employers must protect employee’s safety “so far as is reasonably practicable” by weighing any risk against the cost, time and effort needed to counter it.

Employee duties

Staff also have responsibilities under the HASAWA, primarily to comply with all safety measures put in place by their employers. They must work safely, for their own good and that of their colleagues, using only the equipment they have been trained to use, in the way they were trained to use it.

They must also work with others to ensure everyone stays safe on site and report any dangerous behaviour. Like the employer’s responsibilities, these are essential requirements, and anyone who fails to comply is breaking the law and risks prosecution.

Guidance for managers

There are sections of the HASAWA that specifically target managers and directors who are deemed negligent or who ‘turned a blind eye’ to dangerous practice. And unlike criminal law, in the event of a breach you are not innocent until proven guilty. You must prove your innocence by showing you took sufficient measures to comply — and the penalties are severe if you can’t.

A simple way to make sure you are abiding by the law is to follow the directions set out in the definitive guide to forklift safety and training: Approved Code of Practice — L117. In its own words:

“This Code has been approved by the Health and Safety Executive… It gives practical advice on how to comply with the law. If you follow the advice you will be doing enough to comply with the law in respect of those matters on which the Code gives advice.”

Essential manager training from Mentor

For a simple reference guide to share with your colleagues, why not download Mentor’s free one-page guide to the Health and Safety at Work Act. It’s just a sample of the handouts and reading materials included in Mentor’s new Managing Forklift Operations course, now available online.

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