The Fork Lift Truck Association (FTLA) in the United Kingdom has issued a safety warning in response to two separate, fatal accidents involving similar circumstances. The fatalities could have been avoided had the operators employed a few basic but life-saving measures.
Both incidents involved a trained operator who had parked the vehicle but failed to fully apply the handbrake. In each case the load had not been lowered to the ground. Tragically, the trucks, which had been parked on a slight slope, rolled forward, crushing the operator to death. The accidents were fatal because the loads had been left at chest height, resulting in massive thoracic injuries.
“These recent tragedies remind us that basic safety measures are imperative,” says David Ellison, chief executive of FLTA. “Whatever the time demands upon operators, safety is always a priority. Just a few careless moments can have fatal consequences.”
“In both these cases, had the forks been fully lowered before the driver left the vehicle, their friction with the ground would have slowed or even stopped the vehicle,” he says. “Even if the trucks had moved, the operators would have avoided being crushed at chest height and may have escaped with leg injuries.”
Follow the correct procedures when parking a lift truck, regardless of how short a time the truck will be left unattended. The truck should be on level ground to avoid unwanted movement when stationary. The forks must be lowered to the ground, the parking brake fully applied and the keys removed. The FLTA also strongly advises that all brakes should be tested daily, alongside other regular operator checks, to ensure they function correctly.