Forklift Work Platform

Falls from height when using workplace transport results in approximately 700 major injuries each year in the UK.

Forklift trucks are primarily intended for lifting materials rather than people, however a non-integrated working platform (aka man basket, forklift cage or forklift platform) can be used when it provides a safer means of access than, for example, improvised stairs or platforms or a ladder that would otherwise be used, and it is impracticable to use an integrated working platform.

The forklift safety cage falls under the requirements of The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) and as such the platform must be used and maintained in good working order and repair and in accordance with the instructions provided by the working platform manufacturer.

Regulation 7(2)(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 places a duty on employers to select the most suitable work equipment for the task to be carried out, regardless of the duration of the task. Nevertheless, it is foreseeable (but unacceptable) that people will often use unsafe methods of access to work at height for short duration and occasional tasks. For example, a substantial number of serious accidents occur when people are lifted on the forks or buckets, pallets or stillages placed on the forks of forklift trucks. To encourage safer working practices, in these exceptional circumstances, occasional use of non-integrated working platforms with forklift trucks is allowed in the UK.

Examples of exceptional circumstances include the following:
• Non-routine maintenance tasks for which it is impractical to hire in purpose-built access equipment;
• The replacement of light fittings in high-rise warehouses if the task is not carried out as part of periodic maintenance operations;
• Tasks that would otherwise be carried out using less safe means of access such as ladders, because it is impractical to hire in purpose-designed people-lifting equipment due to the short duration and occasional nature of the task, eg clearing a blocked gutter;
• Checking on high-level damage to racking suspected of causing an immediate risk or checking on the condition of damaged roof lights.

LOLER (regulation 8) requires that lifting operations are properly planned and that work is carried out in a safe manner. For example, there must be a pre-use check of the platform when fitted to the truck.

LOLER (regulation 9) requires lifting equipment for lifting people, which includes trucks and working platforms used to lift people, to be thoroughly examined by a competent person at least once every six months or in accordance with an examination scheme. The competent person must be familiar with the proper fitting of platforms to trucks, taking account of the platform manufacturer’s recommendations, and be capable of making judgements on the integrity of the platform. They must also know how to identify defects or weaknesses which could affect the safe use of the platform on the truck and must follow an appropriate reporting procedure complying with LOLER (regulation 10). They may be an in-house employee but must be sufficiently independent and impartial to allow objective decisions and recommendations to be made.

The Good to Go Safety Man Basket / Forklift Work Platform Inspection Checklist helps ensure compliance with PUWER and LOLER by checking the platform is safe to use whilst the status tag positioned on the entrance gate ensures everyone is aware of the findings of the inspection.

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