Falls from a height are the leading cause of fatalities in the workplace and one of the biggest causes of serious injuries at work. Yet it is often necessary for maintenance teams to perform duties at a height in the workplace and it is essential that employers provide the appropriate safety equipment under the Work at Height Regulations (2005) to ensure work duties can be carried out safely.
A practical way of providing access to racking, roofs and ceilings is to use a forklift working platform. Forklift platforms are securely fastened to the truck and allow one or two workers to be lifted safely into position to conduct maintenance work and repairs. Forklift working platforms incorporate a number of safety features to prevent accidental falls and to make working at a height practical and comfortable for workers.
HSE Regulations on Forklift Working Platforms
Due to the danger or working at a height the Health and Safety Executive has issued guidelines for employers in the use of integrated and non-integrated forklift truck working platforms. Integrated platforms allow workers to operate the controls while on the platform. Non-integrated platforms are raised and lowered by the forklift truck operator.
The HSE states – in guidance note PM28 - that working platforms (non-integrated) on forklift trucks should be for occasional use or when other means of lifting people is not practical, possible or safe. Integrated platforms are recommended for scheduled work at a height such as stocktaking, regular maintenance duties and order preparation.
However, most businesses only require occasional work duties to be conducted at a height, and a non-integrated forklift platform is usually a more cost effective and convenient solution.
Typical uses of non-integrated forklift working platforms
- An hoc maintenance work at a height
- Replacement and repair of light bulbs and fittings
- Short duration work at a height
- Occasional maintenance duties
- Inspecting damage to ceilings, racking and roofs
HSE Restrictions on forklift working platform use
The HSE guidelines state that forklift platforms are unsuitable for use with the following lift trucks:
- Pallet stackers with wrap over forks
- Lift trucks which require manual sequencing to maintain the height of the platform
- Variable reach trucks
Lift trucks with less than 1000Kg capacity must have had maximum loads tested and verified before use, and the maximum load rate.
How to choose the correct forklift platform
A forklift platform must comply with HSE PM28 regulations in addition to being fully compatible with the forklift truck. The HSE requires that the forward length of the forklift platform should not exceed 2 times the rated load centre distance of the truck. The width of the platform must not exceed the width of the truck by more than 250mm on each side.
When selecting a platform it is important to consider the tasks which need to be performed and the loads that need to be lifted. It is essential that the total load weight does not exceed more than half the total load capacity of the forklift truck.
A forklift truck cage must be secured to the truck itself or the forks. If the platform is secured to the forks, they must penetrate at least 75% of the platform length (measured parallel to the axes of the fork arms).
Additional safety features to consider when selecting the most appropriate forklift platform are head guards to prevent injury from falling objects or overhead hazards, prevention of access to moving parts, non-slip flooring, kick guards and safety harness attachment points. Many platforms are sold with optional head guards which can be fitted and removed as appropriate. A collapsible forklift platform is an ideal choice if it is to be used infrequently or if space is at a premium.
Our range of forklift platforms and cages
Our forklift working platforms are fully compliant with British Safety standards as well as HSE PM28 regulations covering non-integrated forklift working platforms. Our working platforms and forklift cages can carry up to 400kg; sufficient for two people plus tools. Our forklift working platforms feature a host of safety features such as head guards, fork-locking systems, safety harness attachment points and a choice of lift up bar or side access gate.
Author Bio - Laura Holland
Social Media and Web Content Coordinator, Jan 2014 - May 2015