The World Day for Safety and Health at Work took place on April 28th, as it does every year. But safety should of course be a priority every single working day, says Combilift CEO Martin McVicar, who looks at how promoting a safety strategy and choosing the right equipment can minimise risks when handling loads of raw materials or finished products …

  Ensuring the safest possible working environment doesn’t just mean adhering to statutory guidelines. Creating a safety strategy across the workforce encourages a culture of vigilance which ensures that risks are kept to a minimum. This is particularly vital in the materials handling sector, where the combination of powered vehicles such as forklifts working alongside other employees on foot can lead to any number of potentially dangerous situations. 

Accidents involving forklift trucks and pedestrians are still a major issue, in spite of the UK having some of the most stringent safety legislation in the world. Human error is a major cause of accidents, and carrying out repetitive tasks on a daily basis can also make drivers or operators of equipment somewhat complacent to the hazards, so management and the company as a whole needs to be constantly reinforcing the safety message.  

It pays to choose the right equipment

Choosing the most suitable equipment for specific handling requirements can vastly improve safety – whether you are handling relatively light pallets, long loads, containers or very heavy oversized modular structures. The indirect costs of not using the right trucks can be considerable in terms of downtime after collisions, product damage or repairs and administrative costs for accident investigations. Disruptive workflow, delayed deliveries and unhappy customers are further consequences – and this is without counting the much more grave human cost of any injuries that may be inflicted. 

What’s required are handling solutions tailored to specific challenges. Trying to manoeuvre long packs of timber in confined spaces with counterbalance forklifts, for example, is problematic. Using a couple of forklifts at either end of a long load is a definite no-no from a health and safety point of view, and travelling with elevated loads around obstacles is also considered to be hazardous practice. 

Now with more than 30 products in our range, every Combilift model has been developed with safety at the forefront. Our thousands of customers around the world have also come to the conclusion that putting safety first doesn’t just protect the workforce, but leads to other wide-ranging benefits such as improved productivity and more cost-effective operation. 

Long loads

Combilift’s multidirectional models were specifically designed for the demands of handling these tricky loads safely and efficiently, as they combine the advantages of a counterbalance forklift, sideloader and narrow aisle truck in one. The very low centre of gravity and integrated platform provides a stable base for resting loads on during transportation, eliminating the need for elevated loads. The quick change of the wheel direction enables sideways travel in confined spaces, and this in turn means a much better use of all available space, which is one of a company’s most valuable assets.  

Safer on foot

Operating at walking speed offers numerous safety benefits compared to ride-on forklifts, and many companies are now looking at using pedestrian-operated trucks where possible. The technology now integrated into the Combilift’s pedestrianised models enables them to transport longer products such as sheet materials as well as pallets, for more versatility. 

The unique, patented, multi-position tiller arm allows the operator to remain at the side when working in narrow aisles rather than the rear, reducing the risk of them being trapped between the truck and racking. Good all-round visibility of the load, the forks and the working environment make it safer for everyone on-site, whether the truck is working indoors or outside. 

For an MHE health check, contact Combilift or one of its many dealers around the country.