Cutting corners places lives at risk
Workplace accidents cost European businesses more than 384 million Euros each week.
But, as companies of all shapes and sizes strive for maximum impact with minimum outlay, experts are concerned that the current focus on saving money could lead some managers to cut corners when it comes to safety: putting lives at risk.
Counting the true cost
A staggering 4.5 million serious accidents already occur in European workplaces annually, claiming the lives of 5,500 workers, according to the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA). It’s a very high cost in terms of human suffering but also in financial terms. Throughout Europe, poor safety management, in some companies, means more than 150 million working days are lost each year. These safety lapses cost businesses 20 billion Euros each year.
Cutting back on health and safety measures could also leave you out of pocket and damage your reputation, according to the British Safety Council. BSC Chief Executive Brian Nimick stresses: “Businesses need to recognise the consequences of not investing the resources necessary to prevent needless deaths and harm.”
Handle with care
So, when the time comes to slash spending in the three key areas of your materials handling budget that follow, always consider the impact of your decisions.
In many cases, the most obvious cutbacks are not the safest. Sometimes, as you’ll see, thinking ‘outside of the box’ could reveal new ways to shrink expenditure.
More often than not, training is one of the first budgets placed under scrutiny when times get tough. A forklift, in the wrong hands, is a potentially lethal weapon, so it’s essential that your fleet is only operated by trained drivers. The skills needed vary between types of truck, so never assume that a driver only needs to be trained once.
Before considering reductions in safety-related training, look first at ‘soft skills’ training, such as presentations or team building. Enhancing your employees’ interpersonal abilities can boost productivity and sales, but these qualities can be reinforced at a later date - without placing lives at risk.
A common mistake for businesses when times get tough is to let routine maintenance slip to keep costs low and trucks in action. Delaying scheduled services and putting off replacing parts, such as tyres, can leave your machinery - and your workers - vulnerable.
In such uncertain times, routine maintenance is essential as it helps keep unexpected bills at bay. Before casting preventative measures aside, contact suppliers in your area to find out about whether a new maintenance package can protect your fleet and your budgets.
When faced with a new or unusual situation, using machinery in ways it wasn’t intended offers a tempting solution. Sometimes you can get away with this - but it could jeopardise your business.
Although forklifts are robust and highly capable, they do have their limitations, such as capacity. Some managers might call doubling up a truck’s load and halving its speed ‘efficiency’. But doing so without any consideration does not make good business sense.
Before making any changes, many questions need to be asked:
- Is the new load weight still within the rated capacity?
- Is the load stable?
- Does it offer the driver clear visibility?
If the answer to any of those is ‘no’, then a new solution to the problem must be found.
Before taking needless risks with your loads, your fleet and - most importantly - your staff, it’s worth seeking expert advice. Many forklift suppliers will survey your site at no cost. After assessing your application, facilities and current equipment, they will be able to put together an efficient solution for your business.
- Action points
- Assess driver training needs