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You don't walk away from a fork lift accident

20 July 2017

In September, the Fork Lift Truck Association will launch its annual safety month campaign, Safetember. Now in its 10th year, the event is sponsored by Jungheinrich UK. Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) Chief Executive Peter Harvey MBE discusses this year’s theme and explains how to get involved

Safetember is possibly the 30 most important days of the year for FLTA members and their customers across the wider industry, helping increase awareness of the dangers associated with fork lift truck operations. 

According to the Health & Safety Executive, fork lift trucks are involved in 25% of accidents involving workplace transport – seriously injuring and hospitalising, on average, three people every day.  

Yet these accidents are anything but ‘everyday’ for the injured, their colleagues, their families and friends. The resulting injuries – including dislocations, degloving, amputations and long-bone fractures – change lives. In an instant. 

That’s why the core message for this year’s Safetember campaign, which runs from 1st to 30th September will be: You don’t walk away from a fork lift accident. 

The very size and nature of fork lift trucks means there are no minor injuries. If you are involved in an accident, you will be seriously injured. It will change your life forever, as well as the lives of everyone around you. 

Lisa’s story

In March 2006, an accident devastated the life of Lisa Ramos, a warehouse administrator, and impacted on the lives of her family. 

Now a motivational and safety speaker, Lisa Ramos had been half-an-hour away from the end of her shift when she was knocked to the floor by a 3.0 tonne lift truck. 

On her arrival at hospital she was told that it would probably be necessary to amputate her foot, but at that time she didn’t really take this to be a serious possibility, believing it was 'just' a dislocation or a fracture. She explains: "After I came around from the anaesthetic I was told that my left foot had been amputated and that the skin and fat had been ripped off, but they hoped it would reattach itself.

“I went in to the hospital with no idea that my life was about to be turned upside-down. Coming to terms with the reality of it gradually, while still on heavy medication, was a much kinder way to face my new situation.

“Four days later I had a second operation where they amputated my leg below the knee and it was after this that I started to feel phantom limb pain. I experienced excruciating pain in the part of the leg that was no longer a part of me. 

“It took quite a while before I could accept myself as being an ‘amputee’, and it took more than three years of cognitive behavioural therapy to get to the place I’m in now.”

Because of stories like Lisa’s, it’s vital that accidents and incidents – no matter how minor they may seem – are not overlooked as ‘one-offs’. Instead, they should serve as a warning that creates an opportunity to learn and to improve. 

And that’s where the FLTA needs your support. We need you to spread this important message to your colleagues, friends and families. 

It only takes an instant to change a life – and there are many ways you can get involved. 

As ever, we will be unlocking lots of fork lift truck safety resources, including posters and videos, and sharing them with the public via http://www.fork-truck.org.uk at no cost. Designed for use with toolbox talks and safety campaigns, these will be available to the public from 1st September 2017. 

To keep up-to-date on all the latest Safetember news, follow us on Twitter (@theflta). We will be posting details of all the free resources available.