UK forklift training specialist Mentor Training has collected feedback suggesting warehouse workers are in harm's way because their managers don't understand and enforce key safety basics.
Mentor managing director Richard Shore says having a named supervisor present in the warehouse is inadequate safety-wise as managers need knowledge, authority and confidence to spot a dangerous job and stop it in its tracks.
"Unfortunately, the story we keep hearing suggests it's much more common for firms to carry out risk assessments, write safety procedures and train frontline staff, just as they should ... but then leave them to their own devices. In the real world, that simply doesn't work."
There is no legal requirement for managers to be qualified forklift operators but Mentor believes a thorough grounding in truck stability, safe maintenance and safety usage rules is essential for a supervisor to identify and mitigate risks.
The company has therefore introduced and delivered dedicated supervisor training, designed to give anyone responsible for managing forklift operations an effective, working knowledge of safe practice, as well as an awareness of their safety responsibilities under law.
"Ultimately, your carefully prepared safety procedures are only as effective as the supervisor that enforces them," Shore says. "Without a manager who is able to enforce and explain the rules, staff inevitably fall into bad habits - and that's often how accidents happen."
Mentor Training says it works with hundreds of forklift operators and other frontline staff every week, and spotted the worrying trend in feedback shared with its trainers in the UK.
Adequate supervision to ensure safety is one of four key elements stipulated in the UK's Health and Safety At Work Act 1974.