Ten years ago, 32-year-old warehouse operative Lisa Ramos was preparing to go home from work to celebrate her son Kieran’s 13th birthday… when she was hit by a reversing fork lift truck.
The 2.5 tonne vehicle stopped moving with Lisa’s left ankle still under the wheels, and only her screams alerted the driver that anything was wrong.
As the operator inched the truck forward and off Lisa’s leg, it took the skin and muscle with it. In Lisa’s own words, “My foot was hanging off… and my skin was hanging like a sheet on the back of my thigh.”
Over the next few days, surgeons battled to save Lisa’s leg, amputating first her foot, and then her leg at the knee in a series of complex operations.
Stories like Lisa’s are not uncommon: it is one we must learn from. Every year, more than 800 people are seriously injured – or worse – in incidents involving forklift trucks.
Yet it is pedestrians (workers on foot) who are most at risk of serious injury: over half of the 800 accidents (57%) involve employees who were ‘on foot’ at the time of the accident.
FLTA chief Eeecutive Peter Harvey MBE explains: “For this at risk group to work safely, they need to be informed of the dangers associated with lifting operations and work together with their colleagues to minimise the chance of an accident like Lisa’s.
“Importantly, awareness does more than make them safer: it encourages workers to take personal responsibility for ensuring good practice.
“So, this September, we are encouraging anyone working with or alongside forklift trucks to look out and support their colleagues as part of our annual Safetember safety campaign. This year’s theme is: mates, make sure your mates get home safe.”
The FLTA is keen to get as many employers on board as possible as their support is essential to deliver real and long-lasting change.
The Association is working in close partnership with the UK Warehousing Association, which has more than 650 members from the logistics industry.
Peter continues: “Collectively, UKWA members are responsible for ensuring the safety of tens of thousands of individuals who work with or alongside forklift trucks on a regular basis… And, because of this, their commitment is crucial to influencing behaviours and changing attitudes towards lifting equipment.”
Visit the FLTA website (www.fork-truck.org.uk) to access a host of free online resources – perfect for toolbox talks and training. There you will find a safety videos, posters, free fact sheets and much more.
Peter concludes: “Making sites safer requires a concerted effort which ensures lasting change in workplace attitudes and behaviours – an effort that involves engaging the whole of the workforce.”
The Fork Lift Truck Association is the UK’s independent authority on fork lift trucks. For more information on Safetember and safe operations, visit www.fork-truck.org.uk or call 01635 277577.