At this time of year, the pressure is mounting on cash and carries and delivered wholesalers to gear up to serve your customers in retail, catering and the on-trade. This is when your warehouse needs to be in top form. In these pages we have stories on the latest equipment and solutions to help you.

chazThe components of the warehouse which need regular attention are readily identifiable – doors, lighting, racking and shelving, forklift trucks and pallet trucks. Of these, one stands out most of all, the forklift trucks. The faster your trucks work, and the more productive you try to be, the bigger the possible risks become. And so do the consequences. Especially if you have customers and other pedestrians wandering around near the trucks.

Forklift trucks need more respect than any other element of the cash and carry or delivered wholesale warehouse, because they are the single biggest safety hazard in the modern warehouse. Your doors get checked periodically: the racking and shelving are inspected at intervals: lights get changed when they fail. But none of these move at the speed of your forklift trucks, or have the same potential for serious injuries. Whether your forklifts are loading and unloading lorries, moving pallets around or working in the racking, these activities demand the maximum care and attention from forklift operators and supervisors.

If you are a large operation, you need to work closely on the whole area of safety with your forklift provider. And if you are a smaller business, you need to talk to whoever services your forklifts. In both instances you need to take a critical look at the way your staff use fork lifts and impose strictly observed speed limits, backed up by clearly visible signage. All staff who operate fork lifts, even occasionally, should be given adequate training by accredited trainers, not just a quick lesson from someone who knows how to use a fork lift.

It comes down to protecting your business from possible loss. The scale of industrial truck accidents remains considerable, despite many years of best efforts from safety organisations, tougher legislation, and great strides in forklift safety improvement devices. Around 5% of all UK deaths at work involve forklifts. Every day on average there are four serious forklift-related accidents, of which over one quarter are major injuries, resulting in a hospital stay or worse. The fines for the companies involved can be severe, and the damages bigger still. And on top of that there’s the potentially crippling cost to your reputation. The first step is to establish that you have taken the maximum precautions, and have a safe working culture.

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