8 common forklift truck hazards managers should look out for

Mentor Forklift Training

8 common forklift truck hazards managers should look out for

Managers are responsible for overseeing many aspects of lift truck operations on site, most importantly, ensuring that everyone is working safely. But what do good and bad operating practices look like? Here are a few of the most common examples of dangerous practice that unfortunately still persist on sites. Any issues like these, that put safety at risk, should be resolved immediately to reduce the risk of serious and costly accidents.

Insufficient observations

Regular all-round observations are vital to safe forklift operations. Not only will they alert the lift truck driver to debris or overhead obstructions, crucially, it is the operator who is responsible for the safety of any pedestrians in their vicinity. Therefore, it is vital that the operator always completes these checks before they move their truck or raise/lower their load.

One of the main causes of serious workplace accidents and fatalities is being hit by a moving vehicle, so be sure to monitor standards and ensure that operators carry out their all-round observations every time, and do so properly (i.e. really look, not just turn their heads).

Unsafe load transportation

Managers must ensure that operators continue to operate as per their training and not allow bad habits or shortcuts to take root.

Loads should always be secured, and weight evenly distributed on the forks. Not only can insecure loads fall and injure those in the vicinity, the sudden loss can also affect stability and cause the truck to tip over.

Watch out for overloading too, as this can also lead to lost loads and tip overs. Make sure that your forklift operators know the difference between gross weight (load plus packaging and pallet) and net weight (load only) and never exceed the truck’s capacity.

Managers should also ensure that operators complete one manoeuvre at a time while carrying a load. For example, turning with an elevated load is a common contributor towards tip-overs, because the higher the load, the less stable the truck, and adding the momentum of a turn dangerously shifts the truck’s centre of gravity. Instead, the operator should turn then lift (not turn and lift).

Inadequate pedestrian segregation

Pedestrians and forklifts must always remain a safe distance apart, especially in areas where they cannot be physically separated. Pedestrians, whether colleagues or visiting drivers, should not be permitted to help with loading/unloading and should never try and steady a load, as they will put themselves at risk of trapping injuries or being hit by the truck or the load, should it fall.

Tragically, injuries to pedestrians caused by lost loads are almost always avoidable because the pedestrian should never need to be in the operating area in the first place. Should a forklift lose its load with no-one in proximity, the worst-case scenario is damage to your stock or equipment – not ideal, but far preferable to the devastating consequences should a pedestrian become involved.

Putting robust, reinforced Safe Systems of Work in place, will help to maintain safe working distances. Communicate these systems to everyone who may need to access an area where forklifts operate, however rarely this may be. This includes staff, contractors, visitors and delivery drivers.

Poor visibility when operating a truck

Operators may be tempted to pile up their loads to reduce the number of trips required. Even if the weight falls within the truck’s capacity, high loads can obscure the operator’s view of their surroundings, increasing the risk of them colliding with other vehicles, pedestrians or racking.

Make sure that operators are travelling with a clear view, so that they can stay alert to any surrounding risks. If their view is obscured by the load and they cannot travel in reverse, then they should use a banksman to guide them.

Not wearing seatbelts

The HSE is clear in its guidance: “Where restraining systems are fitted they should be used.”

Forklift operators may prefer to not wear them but the fact is seatbelts significantly reduce the consequences of an accident. If the truck was to become unstable and tip over, a seatbelt will stop the operator from being thrown from the cab, or trying to escape: which can lead to them being trapped under the truck.

Adding seatbelts to company policies makes their use mandatory on site and managers should reinforce this through regular monitoring, refresher training, on-site signage, etc.

Misusing equipment or using the wrong equipment

All too often, avoidable accidents occur when unsuitable equipment is used to complete a task. A common example is using a forklift to raise a colleague, either on the forks or by lifting a pallet or makeshift cage, rather than a purpose-built work platform attachment or MEWP.

Managers should also look out for cases where operators are using equipment in ways it was not designed to be used. For example, lift trucks are built to lift loads, not push them.

Ensure that operators have access to the correct equipment for the task and understand the importance of using it in the way it was designed to be used, to protect themselves and their colleagues.


Operational pressures, tight deadlines and high demand can influence some operators to compromise on safety in an attempt to save time. But rushing comes at a high cost when it increases the risk of tip overs or collisions. Even a dropped pallet causes delays and disruption when you factor in clean up, aisle closures, stock replenishment and repairs, and that’s if no-one is hurt.

Check that operators are aware of speed limits on site and that they understand the need to stick to them at all times, regardless of any operational pressures.

Dismounting incorrectly

Lift truck operators can become complacent during mounting/dismounting, simply due to the frequency that this is done every day, and may be tempted to jump from the cab. But this increases the risk of slips and falls, and also adds additional distance between them and their cab, potentially putting them into the path of another vehicle.

Managers should ensure that operators are using the 3 points of contact rule: when entering or exiting a truck, keep either one hand and two feet or two hands and one foot on the truck at all times, until seated or stood firmly on the ground. Mentor’s 3 points of contact poster provides a handy reminder to operator’s on site.

Equip managers with the right skills

These common hazards are just a few examples of risks which managers must target to help protect your team and your business. By regularly monitoring operations and making time for proper supervision, those overseeing your operations can guard against unsafe practice, proactively rectifying any bad habits day-to-day.

According to the HSE’s ACOP (L117), all supervisory staff should be able to:

  • Carry out effective observations and know what to look for.
  • Communicate effectively with operators and line managers.
  • Recognise unsafe practice and behaviour.
  • Maintain and promoting health and safety standards.

Contact us if you require further information.


An Employer’s Guide to Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

An employer’s guide to Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

An employer’s guide to Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a progressive condition that can affect a person’s hands and forearms following prolonged exposure to vibration.

Employers owe a duty to their workforce to take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of workers developing HAVS, including regular safety assessments, training and providing suitable PPE.

Employers owe a particular duty of care towards staff who have, or may have, a higher risk of developing HAVS due to a history of working with vibrating tools.

HAVS symptoms

HAVS can manifest in a range of debilitating symptoms, including:

  • Losing a sense of touch in the fingers
  • Severe hand and arm pain and numbness
  • Weaker hand and grip strength
  • Pins and needles

HAVS symptoms can get worse over time, even after the affected person stops using power tools entirely. The condition can be extremely serious and can affect someone’s daily life and ability to work.

A HAVS sufferer may be unable to work in cold or wet conditions, carry out fine motor tasks or do any work requiring the use of fingers (such as typing). The severe symptoms of HAVS can make it difficult for affected workers to easily retrain.

The condition can have painful vascular effects that can lead to Vibration White Finger (VWF) and nerve damage. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is also associated with vibration exposure and can exist alongside HAVS.

Who is at risk?

Generally speaking, HAVS risk increases with the strength of the vibration and the duration of use, both in terms of the length of time a tool is used before a break, and the overall time that vibrating tools are used.

However, any employee who uses vibrating tools or equipment, for any length of time, is potentially at risk.

Construction workers are particularly likely to be at risk, but the risk to workers in other sectors, including rail and road maintenance, manufacturing and gardening/estate management should also be assessed.

Jackhammers, road breakers and hammer drills are obviously harmful if overused, but almost all power tools carry some degree of vibration risk. Handheld grinders, chainsaws, lawnmowers and strimmers carry a risk of harm, as can stationary saws, drills and sanders.

Employers also owe a duty to accommodate and protect workers who either already have a disability that could put them at greater risk, or who have a history of vibration exposure.

A company must identify workers at greater risk, and take steps to protect them from further harm. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to vibration exposure management is rarely suitable.

Your obligations as an employer

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations require companies to manage vibration-related health and safety risks. As an employer, you must ensure that employees’ exposure to vibration at work is reduced to a minimum, wherever it is reasonable and practical to do so.

In practice, the law recognises that some degree of exposure is inevitable for some workers, including any staff that use vibrating power tools or machinery as a part of their job. It is the employer’s responsibility to regularly assess, monitor and act to reduce this exposure.

Employers’ legal duties include:

  • Regularly checking vibration risks to workers
  • Acting to reduce risks
  • Providing regular awareness training to at-risk employees
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of the measures taken
  • Carrying out regular health checks for at-risk workers

As with other areas of health and safety law, such as noise-related regulations, there are fixed levels of exposure at which an employer must take action.

Vibration exposure limits are called the exposure action value (EAV) and the exposure limit value (ELV). These limits are measured using an A(8) value. The A(8) value is the average exposure over an 8-hour workday.

The EAV has a A(8) value of 2.5 m/s2. This represents a piece of equipment’s vibration or movement per second. If an employee is exposed to A(8) value over 2.5 m/s2, their employer must act to reduce exposure as much as possible.

The ELV is 5 m/s2 A(8). This represents the absolute limit of daily exposure that employees must not exceed.

Manufacturers will usually publish the vibration values of their equipment, but the method for calculating a tool’s A(8) value from its rating is not obvious.

Online calculators are available to help you work out A(8) values for different tools and how they should be combined to calculate a worker’s overall risk.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

The two key ways to protect workers from vibration-related injury are:

  • regular health checks
  • reducing the time that workers use vibrating equipment (e.g. by job rotation)

In addition, vibration risk can be reduced by properly maintaining vibrating equipment. Older gear should be replaced if possible. Newer products generally have lower vibration ratings, meaning they can be used for longer. Consumables like abrasive discs should be suitable (i.e. those recommended by the manufacturer), and regularly replaced.

The HSE takes a somewhat sceptical position on the effectiveness of PPE like anti-vibration gloves. Even CE and ISO-certified gloves may actually increase vibration risk under certain circumstances, so gloves should not be treated as a quick-fix solution.

The risk of harm is greater in cold weather, so suitable gloves could be worn in such conditions. 

What to do if an employee makes a claim?

Receiving notification of claim from an existing or past employee can come as a shock to an employer. Compensation claims can be disruptive to a business and can impact morale at a firm.

Your immediate concern should be the well being of the employee as well as ensuring that other employees are not at similar risk of injury.

Chris Salmon, Director of Quittance said, “Most claims do not go to court. Instead, they are a process of a negotiation between the claimant’s solicitor and the employer’s insurer. At certain stages, the insurer will ask you to provide information and respond to assertions made by the claimant’s solicitor.”

“Try to maintain constructive communication with the injured employee or ex-employee from the outset. This approach can have a positive effect on the outcome, and should reduce the likelihood of acrimonious court action and knock-on consequences for company morale.”

On receipt of a claim notification form, you should:

  • Notify your insurer.
  • Respond to the notification within the set timeframe.
  • Make sure that all formalities, such as accident book reporting, are completed.
  • Arrange a full health and safety audit across the company. Consider getting professional input from a health and safety expert.
  • Refrain from corresponding with the employee without legal advice, but make sure that all communication is positive and compassionate, rather than confrontational.
  • Reassure other employees that you are cooperating with the claim process, address any concerns they may have and stress the importance of health and safety in the company.
  • Think about PR – if appropriate, acknowledge the issue, along with any failings, and highlight the measures implemented to reduce the risk of work injuries.
Split Liability

Attributing liability for an occupational disease can be complicated. HAVS can be gradually contracted from prolonged exposure to vibration at a number of previous employers.

If the employee was exposed to vibration at previous or concurrent employers, a split liability agreement may be reached. Under such an agreement, compensation may be shared between your insurer and the other employers’ policies.

It could be that the employee is partially responsible for the condition. If, for example, the employee repeatedly failed to take mandated breaks, it may be argued that they contributed to the condition and compensation might be reduced.

Contact us if you require further advice. 

Guest Speaker – Chris Salmon Director and Co-Founder of Quittance Legal Services

Cleaning the premises after a Covid case

Cleaning the premises after a COVID case

Cleaning the premises after a COVID case

We are aware of the need to clean and disinfect the workplace after learning of a worker with Covid symptoms or confirmed coronavirus. There is guidance on how this should be undertaken from a health and safety perspective.

Government Compliance 

The UK Government guidance notes the need to undertake cleaning and disinfection following an occasion when an individual has symptoms or confirmed coronavirus and has left the premises.

Guidance notes that:

  • public areas where a symptomatic person has passed through and spent minimal time but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids, such as corridors, can be cleaned thoroughly as normal
  • all surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with should be cleaned and disinfected, including all potentially contaminated and frequently touched areas such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones, grab rails in corridors and stairwells.

It is advisable that, as part of outbreak contingency planning, the employer has a plan in place to enable appropriate cleaning to be undertaken. A process should be put in place that enables appropriate persons to be informed of the circumstances when cleaning is required and has the authority to put the plan into place.

Being Practical

In terms of practical matters, the following should be considered:

  • completion of an appropriate risk assessment/s for the cleaning activities, including use of substances and work equipment
  • provision of appropriate equipment for cleaning but also warning signs and personal protective equipment, etc
  • development of method statements/standard operating procedures that put into practice the risk control measures required
  • instruction and training of operatives in the use of equipment, PPE, substances, cleaning methods and waste disposal, etc.

There will need to be some form of dynamic risk assessing required as the operations will need to take into account the actual areas involved. This will require some investigative work to ascertain where the person with symptoms/confirmed Covid has been.

Again the employer should be considering where responsibility for this rests within the organisation.

Where the cleaning operations have been outsourced to a third party it is essential the organisation works with the cleaning provider to ensure all parties are fully conversant with the procedures to be followed.

To assist in developing appropriate procedures, the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) have produced a guidance document Standard Operating Procedure: Outbreak Decontamination Cleaning.

This guidance can be used as a framework to develop an organisation-specific procedure.

Contact us should you require further information.


Beware scam HSE email offering guidelines on COVID-19 spot check

Businesses  should be aware of a scam email which is being circulated. The email is signed by someone identified as Mark J. Burrows, is targeting UK businesses, and claims that the HSE will soon be visiting the email recipient’s premises for a COVID-19 check. The email urges the recipient to follow the guidance provided through a link in the email.

Example email which was received by a client.

Health and safety spot checks and inspections during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Health and Safety Executive is carrying out spot checks and inspections on all types of businesses in all areas to ensure they are COVID-secure.

We are making calls so we can give expert advice on how to manage the risks and protect workers, customers and visitors. We are also working closely with local authorities, assisting them in the sectors they regulate such as hospitality and retail.

By calling and visiting premises and speaking directly to employers, we can check the measures they’ve put in place are in line with government guidance.

Inspectors will make COVID-secure checks as part of their normal role in visiting workplaces during the pandemic. To ensure we reach as many workplaces as possible nationally and support the core work of our inspectors, we are working with trained and approved partners to deliver the spot check calls and visits.

We are planning to visit (spot check) your premises:  9 AM, 19/03/2021

Please follow the guidance to find the required documents. This is legal requirement.

Yours sincerely,

Mark J. Burrows

HSE Manager
telephone: 0300 790 6787
Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm

Health and Safety Executive
Redgrave Court
Merton Road
L20 7HS

If you get this email, please delete it. Do not click on the attachments. If you belong to an organisation with multiple employees, please ensure all of them are aware of this type of email scam, and that they understand the risks associated with downloading files that they were directed to after receiving unexpected or unsolicited emails.

If you would like an audit, contact us.

Contact us if you require further information.

Register for free rapid lateral flow test

Register to order free rapid lateral flow coronavirus tests

Register to order free rapid lateral flow coronavirus tests

You must register on or before 31 March 2021.

Do not use this service if you or your employees have symptoms. Anyone with symptoms should order a PCR test and stay at home.

There are different tests you can get to check if you have coronavirus.

The 2 most commonly used are:

  • PCR tests (mainly for people with symptoms)
  • rapid lateral flow tests (only for people with no symptoms)

You can register below to order tests if:

  • your business is registered in England
  • your employees cannot work from home

The tests must be used in the workplace. They cannot be taken home.

Your employees can also find out if they can get a rapid lateral flow test from a local test site instead.

Before you start

You’ll need:

  • the name of your company
  • your company registration number
  • an email address

To begin the registration click HERE

if you have any questions, please contact us or look on the Government website.

Take care. Keep safe!