Forklift Seat Belts

Forklift Trucks and Seat Belts – What Your Business Needs to Know

Seat belts play a vital role in ensuring the safety of forklift operators. In the event of sudden stops, collisions or tip-overs, seat belts keep the operator securely positioned within the confines of the forklift's cab, reducing the risk of ejection and severe injuries. Without seat belts, operators are vulnerable to being thrown from the vehicle, leading to potentially catastrophic consequences.
The HSE’s position on wearing seatbelts whilst driving lift trucks is as follows:
“Since 2002, counterbalanced trucks, rough-terrain trucks and side-loading trucks, one side only, must be fitted with an operator restraining system (for example a seat belt). For older trucks which do not have one, you should fit a restraining system if the risk assessment indicates that there is a risk of the vehicle overturning and where the operator may be trapped between the truck and the ground. Where restraining systems are fitted, they should be used.
Where a restraining system cannot be fitted, and the risks are sufficiently high, it will be necessary to use another lift truck which has such a system. Any lift truck fitted with a roll-over protective structure (ROPS) to protect operators from the risk of injury resulting from 180° or more roll-over should be fitted with a restraining system”.
A Royton-based haulage company faced a hefty fine of over £85,000 following a tragic incident where a forklift truck driver lost his life while loading a heavy goods vehicle. Ian Dawson, 60, from Rochdale, was in the midst of loading pallets onto the HGV at Chorlton Express Transport Limited on November 19, 2020. Unfortunately, during this operation, the HGV unexpectedly moved forward, causing the forklift truck to overturn. Mr. Dawson, who was not wearing a seat belt, became trapped beneath the vehicle and tragically succumbed to his injuries.
An investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed significant shortcomings on the part of Chorlton Express Transport Limited. It was found that the company had failed to implement adequate safe systems of work concerning vehicle movements and neglected to enforce the mandatory use of seat belts for all forklift truck drivers.
During court proceedings, it was emphasised that had Mr. Dawson been wearing a seat belt, his life could likely have been spared.
The court found Chorlton Express Transport Limited guilty of breaching regulation 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. As a consequence, they were fined £86,710 and ordered to pay £5,903 in costs during a hearing at Manchester Magistrates Court on April 17, 2024.
Following the verdict, HSE inspector Jane Carroll emphasised the critical importance of adhering to safety protocols, particularly regarding the use of seat belts in workplace vehicles. The company's failures not only resulted in the tragic loss of a beloved family member but also exposed employees and others to significant risks associated with workplace vehicle operations. Carroll stressed the necessity for all workplaces utilising forklift trucks to rigorously assess and mitigate the associated risks to ensure the safety of all involved.
This unfortunate incident serves as a poignant reminder of the profound impact of workplace safety lapses and underscores the imperative for businesses to prioritise the well-being of employees through comprehensive safety measures and adherence to regulatory standards.

Read more blogs from Ascend:

Health and safety in the workplace - What you need to know
Mental health in the workplace - A comprehensive guide for employers

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