Supervisors are responsible for forklift operations

Nick Welch -
Safety First
- 5 Feb 2015 ( #704 )
2 min read
Nick Welch
Nick Welch
Nick Welch is Senior Technical Development Executive for RTITB, the largest forklift training accrediting body in the UK and Ireland, recognised by the HSE, HSA and HSENI.
Many forklift operation supervisors are unaware of their accountability. We all know that the materials handling industry can be dangerous and whilst there is a certain amount of responsibility placed on the forklift operator, it is ultimately up to management to oversee the operation. This important supervision helps to avoid accidents in the workplace and also prevents potential damage to valuable stock or equipment.

Each year, thousands of injuries that occur during forklift usage are caused by lack of training or supervision. Even experienced, fully trained forklift operators should be routinely supervised and monitored when operating machinery to determine whether that they are abiding by safety protocols, making it even more important to ensure the supervisor has up to date training.

According to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), the law requires the employer to provide adequate supervision and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) state that the employer must ensure all people who use, supervise or manage the use of work equipment have received adequate training. They must have enough training and knowledge to recognise safe and unsafe practices and understand the risks involved and how to avoid or prevent them.

The sense of pressure to meet tight deadlines can be huge and may lead an unsupervised operator to neglect certain safety protocols, resulting in mistakes being made or accidents occurring. One of the best ways to avoid this is to ensure that not only the operators, but the supervisors and managers are completely up to date with their training.

Due to the fact that many supervisors have never been drivers themselves, it can be difficult for them to fully understand and be aware of the specific issues that operators face. A high level of concentration is required to operate efficiently, accurately and safely and, as supervisors are not required to undergo operator training, they may not always be able to identify good or bad practice.

Even one day of refresher training here and there can vastly improve a supervisor's awareness, knowledge and communication. There are many organisations that offer training across the UK, so there is no excuse not to participate in it.

A typical managers' and supervisors' course will cover such topics as statutory responsibilities, management of health and safety, PUWER, LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations), the design and limitations of equipment and associated equipment (including attachments) used and the maintenance and inspection of equipment.

These skills are important for the safe and effective operation of materials handling equipment and accredited training and supervision is the most effective way to ensure proper safety precautions in the workplace. As with other roles in the workplace, supervisors should also be monitored and assessed to ensure standards are maintained. This way, potentially serious accidents can be prevented.
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