The National Fork Lift Safety Conference, organised by the Fork Lift Truck Association, had a successful third staging on June 29.
FLTA chief executive David Ellison said: "The first conference, in 2003, was set up in response to a clear demand from truck users for practical guidance... and today its agenda continues to be shaped by the current concerns of that audience.
"Most sessions addressed worries expressed by owners and operators of lift trucks. But, while the issues prioritised were many and varied, the subject of training was particularly prominent.
"Deficiencies in training are implicated in a large proportion of accidents, so this is an area in which we are particularly keen to help improve awareness and promote best practice.
"As the first port of call for anyone seeking advice on fork lift safety, the association is regularly contacted by companies and organisations of all types. This places us in a very good position to gather end users' views. More specifically, we work closely with more than 120 of them who have joined the FLTA Safe User Group."The programAcademic research and safety
Dr Uwe Weiner, of Ingenieurgesellschaft Weiner & Schroter mbH, gave an insight into some areas in which better understanding of materials handling safety was being gained and new solutions developed.
Restraint systems: With the aid of crash test dummies, researchers at the Gerhard-Mercator-University, of Duisburg, have worked on an entirely new type of restraining system. Dr Weiner explained the background to the research, testing methods and the result.
Pallet turning device: Anyone whose materials handling tasks include picking from the rear of a pallet will know the task presents particular ergonomic problems. Dr Weiner has produced prototypes of a device, currently undergoing field trials in Germany, that looks set to provide a solution. Tyre blowouts
Whether you're driving a car or a forklift, a tyre blow-out will seriously affect your control. Even at slow speed, the effect of tyre failures on a forklift can be dramatic, particularly if they cause the load to be shed.
Roger Preston and Phil Perry, of Watts Industrial Tyre Services Ltd, said tyres should always be inspected for damage and excessive wear as part of the daily checks routine. That's not always as simple as it sounds, as it depends on knowledge of how to recognise the danger signs. The kind of damage that can occur will also vary between tyre and wheel types.
In a session led by FLTA chief executive David Ellison, impartial answers were given to typical questions regularly posed to the FLTA.
What constitutes the ideal operator?
To find out what makes a good operator, researchers questioned and profiled more than 1,000 of them, looking at the many factors that affect the way they work. The research, conducted by Mentor, a training provider for all types of materials handling equipment and workplace transport, was the biggest study of its kind ever.
Richard Shore, Mentor's managing director, exploded some commonly held myths and made surprising revelations about today's forklift operators.Operator assessment and monitoring
Good operator training comes at a significant cost but is a very worthwhile investment. So, too, is investing the right amount of effort in selecting the right people to be trained, as that can save a fortune in damage, fines and lost productivity.
Interactive Driving Systems (IDS), which enjoyed international success with its Virtual Fleet Risk Manager, is now launching a suite of online tools to help with assessment and training. IDS's Dr Will Murray said the tools had much to offer for monitoring and analysis of forklift operations. Importantly, there was also potential for assessing part-time or agency operators before letting them loose among a company's valuable employees and goods.Operator safety - a case study
A presentation from Mondi Packaging (UK) Ltd, a member of the FLTA Safe User Group, focused on the benefits of the company's own internal forklift truck licence and safe driving diploma. It's an idea for which Mondi was short-listed as a finalist in the safety category at the FLTA Awards for Excellence 2005.
Mondi's documents were developed by David Zelaskowski, an instructor who had identified a pressing need for ongoing monitoring of forklift operations. When a driver has three licence endorsements, that automatically prompts action by management. When a driver has an accident-free year, the diploma recognises that achievement. The scheme highlights safety, encourages good practice and strikes an effective balance between reward and punishment. Training forum
Throughout the program, delegates had opportunities to try out and assess the Mentor Safetruck Training Simulator. It is a new, state-of-the-art, interactive training tool. It combines all the controls a driver uses on a counterbalance truck with virtual reality computer technology to create real-life loading, unloading and transportation situations - both safe and unsafe.