Analysis of the accidents in the Ministry's 1996 study revealed a wide variety of immediate causes (collisions, shifting loads, tip-overs), but generally the same root cause:
The lack of an effective safety program.
Workers were poorly trained.
Supervision was inadequate.
The work and workplace were not organized with safety in mind.
The result was unsafe work practices that made an accident almost inevitable. The development and implementation of a program to address these problems is an obvious first step towards improving powered-lift-truck safety.
While it may be tempting to see truck operators as responsible for accidents and thus better training for them as the way to safe lift truck operations, it is important to recognize that training, although essential, will not be enough to eliminate accidents. To be most effective, operator training should be part of a larger comprehensive powered-lift-truck safety program.
This program should include the following elements:
Training (of both truck operators and those working near lift trucks).
Maintenance and repair procedures.
Lift truck selection criteria.
Although the employer is responsible for implementation of the program, it will likely be more effective if all the workplace parties are involved in its development. The joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative, where there is one, along with supervisors and workers should all be involved not only in the development of rules and procedures to prevent injuries, but in identifying the causes of accidents and "near misses", and the monitoring of lift-truck-safety improvements.