Funding cuts mean the industry must take the lead on promoting safety, says the British Truck Industry
Self-regulation is now the name of the game when it comes to safety within the construction industry. In line with all government-funded organisations, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is obliged to focus its attention on key issues, and it is increasingly being left to construction plant owners to ensure that users know how to operate equipment safely.
An excellent example of industry proactively putting its own house in order came in February, with the launch of Safe Use of Telehandlers in Construction by the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group.
This document brings together, for the first time, comprehensive best practice and guidance to ensure that the power and flexibility of telehandlers are marshalled safely across the construction industry.
However, what makes this new publication notable as well as beneficial is the extent to which it was a joint effort between industry expert bodies. For the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA), this degree of cross-disciplinary collaboration is highly valuable and fruitful and, we feel, will be essential to ensure that industry can show not only proactivity, but also diligence in spreading best practice as far and wide as possible.
Being seen to “do the right thing” is even more important in an economic climate where the overwhelming need for cost control and business growth could easily blot out safety imperatives.
If financial short-cuts lead to increasing injury or fatality rates, legislators and pressure groups will soon take note, and the result will be increased costs resulting from tougher laws, not to mention difficulty in attracting good staff.
Not a drain on resources
However, implementing good safety procedures need not be a huge drain on either resources or finances.
At BITA, we prioritise two key factors in safety. The first of these is “managing in” - adopting best practice based upon industry-wide consensus, instilled via training and reinforced by consistent day to day application.
The second is “designing in” - ensuring that all the tools for the job are appropriate, safe and fit for purpose.
Safety may not contribute directly to your bottom line but, in truth, it’s the key asset that every business should seek to maximise.
By distilling complex legislative details into readable, actionable points with the blessing of official bodies such as the HSE, organisations such as BITA and the Strategic Forum can co-operate to boost safety while allowing end-users to concentrate on what they do best: running their businesses.
- James Clark is secretary general of the British Industrial Truck Association, which represents the UK’s forklift truck manufacturers, suppliers and service providers.
- Copies of Safe Use of Telehandlers in Construction can be downloaded from www.bita.org.uk or www.cpa.uk.net/p/Telehandlers