The 14th annual National Fork Lift Safety Conference got off to an emotionally-charged start as Lisa Ramos, who lost her leg after being struck by a fork lift, gave a hard-hitting talk on the life-changing consequences of safety lapses.
As part of this powerful and revealing presentation, her husband – and former colleague – David recounted his own experience of the shocking events and the long-term repercussions.
Fork lift supervisors and managers assembled from across the country were clearly affected by the decision to open proceedings by focussing on the human cost of an accident rather than merely discussing statistics.
Sponsored by Jungheinrich UK, the theme of this year's conference, 'Leadership & Ownership', reflected the FLTA's efforts to inform managers and supervisors of their responsibilities for the safety of the workers under them.
After an opening speech by Association Chief Executive, Peter Harvey MBE, the Conference received highly informative presentations from the HSE, Combilift, Mentor Training, and the accrediting body the ABA.
As with previous Conferences, the presentations of greatest interest were those from managers and supervisors from companies who have successfully transformed safety on their own premises. Once again the line-up included winners of the FLTA's Safe Site Award.
Graham Andrews of Heineken UK, described the initiative that won the Safe Site Award at this year's FLTA Awards for Excellence. The remarkable 'Perfect Forklift Experience' project successfully instilled a sense of ownership in their workforce and reduced repair costs at their Hereford plant by 95%... for less than £100. Of particular interest was the use of more than 40 videos that visually demonstrate how every forklift-related task should be performed – a game-changing safety initiative in an environment where truck operators may have little command of English or are unable to read or write.
Mitsubishi Electric and The Bury Black Pudding Company – both of whom were Highly Commended finalists of the Safe Site Award – followed, presenting details of their own successful, cost effective safety initiatives that are achieving a real shift in the culture of their organisations.
After an engaging Q&A, which allowed the audience to pose their questions to a panel of the morning's experts, and an inspirational talk by the UK's first fast jet pilot, Jo Salter, delegates took the opportunity to network over lunch.
Association Chief Executive, Peter Harvey, said: "This year's Safety Conference was a great success. Delegates were treated to some truly insightful presentations and I'm sure everyone left with some great ideas and the motivation to implement some strategies on their own sites. Perhaps we'll even see some of the companies in attendance this year, presenting their own initiatives here, in the future."