If driving a car while using a mobile phone is considered so risky it’s been made illegal in many countries, then how much more dangerous is it to drive a forklift truck while being distracted?
Because it isn’t against the law – in many countries – to drive a forklift truck while holding a mobile, the onus is on management to take a stance. The first thing to do is carry out a Risk Assessment to evaluate when and if calls have to be made. This may even influence your choice of truck.
It makes sense, for example, to ban drivers from taking or making personal calls while at the wheel. Where there is a legitimate reason for using the phone for work purposes (for example, when a forklift operator needs to communicate with fellow workers on a working platform), you could consider a hands-free kit, or one of the even safer communication systems available for use in warehouses.
Grab… and smash!
Driver distraction comes in other forms, though, including drivers losing control of a truck when seeking to grab an unsecured item that is in danger of falling within the cab area. This could easily be a mobile phone, clipboard, tape measure, even something as trivial as a pen. The problem is that it’s a reflex response – unrelated to the value or importance of the item – so the problem must be solved at source.
When you are considering a new truck, always include in your specification the amount and quality of storage space available for storing the type of gear that a driver will typically carry: for example, cups, drinks cans, bottles, pens, scissors, tape dispenser, writing-pad/clipboard and mobile phone. Some new models even incorporate a litter bin and a stow-bag for the driver’s personal possessions.
To reveal the threats mobile phones and other distractions have on your business, carry out a Risk Assessment. With this information to hand, you can easily evaluate when and – more importantly – if calls should be made. A reputable supplier can assist with identifying possible solutions, such as communication systems or secure storage devices.
Action Points to consider:
- Schedule Risk Assessment
- Find out about communication systems and storage
- Create and enforce policy on mobile phone use