Crown's Simon Barkworth speaking in Birmingham
For the second year running, National Forklift Safety Day was marked simultaneously in the United States and the United Kingdom on Tuesday, 8 June 2021.
The eighth annual celebration in the US took the form of a virtual event, bringing together some of the leading forklift manufacturers.
There were virtual presentations from Brian Feehan, president of the Industrial Truck Association (ITA); Jay Gusler, ITA chairman of the board and executive vice president operations, Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas; Joseph Hughes, Jr., deputy assistant secretary for pandemic and emergency response, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); Tony Sciarrotta, executive director and publisher, The Reverse Logistics Association; Jess Dankert, vice president for supply chain, Retail Industry Leaders Association; and Mike Field, NFSD Task Force chair and president and CEO of The Raymond Corporation.
"Whether you're bringing on new workers, reassigning responsibilities or adjusting processes to keep up with demand, education is vital to an operation," says Field. "Raymond is committed to helping operations foster a culture of safety and continuous improvement through the optimisation of data, people and processes that help maximise efficiency and reinforce training."
Crown Equipment Corporation used National Forklift Safety Day to emphasise the importance of a comprehensive safety program that goes beyond the forklift and stresses the role of the individual.
"National Forklift Safety Day continues to play a crucial role in keeping forklift safety top of mind for warehouse managers, workers and operators," says Jim Mozer, senior vice president, Crown Equipment. "This year, we want to remind everyone that forklift safety is more than one day and is more than just the forklift. Organisations that understand the interconnection among the many components of a comprehensive safety program are better positioned to create and maintain a strong safety-first culture with active engagement from employees."
Toyota Material Handling used National Forklift Safety Day 2021 as an opportunity to reinforce the importance of operator safety in materials handling environments. According to industry forecasts, sales of powered industrial trucks in the US and Canada are expected to top 265,000 units this year, which would surpass the industry's 2018 record high by more than 16,000 units, the company notes.
That record growth will require new forklift operators that need to be trained. More than 4.5 million forklift operators are employed in 300 different industries in the US, according to a report from the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) and Oxford Economics. That number will continue to rise, and as current forklift operators learn to work in new and evolving environments, a renewed focus on operator safety is paramount.
"Logistics are different in 2021, and so are operators' safety needs," says Tom Lego, TMH brand ambassador. "Ongoing training is critically important for both novice and veteran forklift operators, especially with all the new technology found in today's equipment. Even professional athletes go back and practise fundamentals as they prepare for the upcoming season. Forklift operators can benefit from doing the same thing. National Forklift Safety Day is a great opportunity for us in the materials handling industry to refocus and reinforce the fundamentals of safety."
"National Forklift Safety Day is a significant event for our industry in promoting a safe work environment for all employees and the importance of operator training," according to Jay Gusler, executive vice president operations at Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas and ITA chairman. "This past year has taught us the continued need for heightened safety awareness and the importance of emphasising forklift safety and operator training. We're proud to support and work with the Industrial Truck Association to help reinforce the safe use of materials handling equipment."
In its support of National Forklift Safety Day, battery maker Enersys, cited OSHA research which found an average of 22 workers are injured in non-fatal forklift incidents each day.
"EnerSys designs and engineers battery technology for forklift equipment with the welfare of operators and other warehouse personnel in mind," says Harold Vanasse, senior director of marketing, motive power global at EnerSys. "It is our responsibility as a company to supply products that comply with the highest standards of health and safety for our end-users, who are helping to keep our global supply chain moving, and we are honoured to stand beside ITA to raise awareness about this important topic that impacts so many different industries and demographics."
There were a number of commemorative events in the UK, including a live webinar hosted by Crown Lift Trucks UK at its Birmingham branch. Keynote speakers included Crown UK managing director Simon Barkworth, who is also joint president of the UK Material Handling Association.
NFSD 2021 was for the first time promoted by the UK Material Handling Association, the new voice in UK materials handling formed by the merger of the industry's two most respected trade associations - BITA (British Industrial Truck Association) and the FLTA (Fork Lift Truck Association).
The 2021 campaign focuses on the importance of accredited Thorough Examination, and was marked with the publication of an updated BITA GN28 - the industry-approved guideline on Thorough Examination and Safety Inspections.