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Editor's Pick - Materials Handling


Safety first and always

17 November 2023

The UK Material Handling Association (UKMHA) is the single voice of the UK material handling sector, providing business support, professional development, market intelligence, networking and events to help deliver competitive advantage for its hundreds of members.

ESTABLISHED BY the industry for the industry, the UKMHA exists to be the single voice of the UK material handling sector. The association represents the interests and lobbies on behalf of, all its members – be they manufacturers, dealers, end-users or suppliers to the industry. Its fundamental aim is to create the conditions which will help its members prosper and grow. This will remain the case throughout 2024 and beyond.

Its work also ensures that the material handling industry, which is worth more than £120 billion gross added value (GVA) to the UK economy, continues to operate safely.

Formed by the merger of BITA (British Industrial Truck Association) and the FLTA (Fork Lift Truck Association), together with their co-owned subsidiary, CFTS (Consolidated Fork Truck Services), the UKMHA defines itself by the ethos of raising standards across the sector, hence the association’s strapline ‘Lifting Standards Together’.

The approach has proven to be successful through a series of campaigns focussed on a safer industry. There is the annual fixture in the material handling calendar, National Forklift Safety Day, which each year carries a different theme and then the National Safety Convention, which highlights a key aspect of safety legislation and invites guest speakers to address a conference of material handling stakeholders.

But the safety message is not confined to specific events. It is a year-round strategy that flexes as required and is shaped by events both inside the industry and in the wider sector.

The association’s safety audits, arranged through the association’s Safe User Group, are a key part of this approach. The audits are specially designed to ensure that Full Dealer Members are legislatively compliant and actively promoting best practice in their day-to-day activities. 

In addition to being safety compliant, members completing the accreditation can also testify to gaining competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Upon joining the UKMHA, new members are asked to abide by a stringent Code of Practice (CoP) with the option of completing a Safety Audit.

The CoP is a commitment on the part of the member to deliver a competent service to customers, with all work conducted by fully trained engineers, using high quality parts, the use of a UKMHA-approved hire contract and for full peace of mind, have in place insurance cover of more than £5m. 

The pledge undertaken by members to the public means that companies will better understand the needs of their customers and that the equipment they supply is right for their requirements. Above all, UKMHA members are required to behave with integrity.

Underpinning the CoP is the UKMHA’s thorough Member Audit. These have been developed specifically for the forklift truck industry and are intended to be a real badge of honour for the company successfully undergoing the inspection. 

The UKMHA’s own Compliance Manager, Lee Medway undertakes an on-site visit to each company to personally inspect more than 100 criteria. These cover legally required areas of safety, health, and environment procedures. A highly effective health check, the audit enables members to share best practice and offers complete peace of mind because the advice and support is delivered by an expert with up-to-the minute knowledge of all compliance requirements.

Successful completion of the audit offers many benefits to members. Their customers can be confident that employing the services of an audit-accredited member means they are partnering with a company that has demonstrated a commitment to work to a strict code of ethics and is fully compliant with all required legislation. Also, by employing the services of an accredited UKMHA audited company, customers know they will have full traceability and accountability.

With the material handling sector making such an enormous contribution to the UK logistics industry, ensuring the safe movement of goods for thousands of businesses is essential. One way of achieving this is to ensure that all material handling equipment is retained in good order.

Through its subsidiary, CFTS, the association also promotes Thorough Examination scheme. Thorough Examination is the name given to the mandatory inspection required by law to ensure that the mechanical parts of a lift truck are in safe working order. It is roughly equivalent to the MOT for cars.

UKMHA recommends that all Thorough Examinations are completed by a CFTS-accredited Competent Person. The CFTS mark is a guarantee that a lift truck will be examined carefully, and that key components such as brakes and steering will be checked along with the lifting mechanism.

All MHE must receive a Thorough Examination at least once a year. However, examinations could be required more often depending on the type of truck. The examination process is governed by regulations laid down by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This states that Thorough Examination of industrial lift trucks is required under LOLER 1998, which covers lifting equipment, and PUWER 1998, which deals with all other safety-related items, such as brakes, steering and tyres. 

The safety message is reinforced through National Forklift Safety Day, the premier safety event in the UK material handling calendar. Each year it focuses on a key aspect of forklift safety. Since its launch in 2019, the campaign has highlighted the importance of forklift truck operators wearing seat belts, keeping workers safely segregated from moving material handling equipment, the need for forklift trucks to undergo regular inspections as part of a Thorough Examination and the requirement to have forklift truck operators undergo proper training in the use of their equipment.

The latest campaign focussed on the importance of safe working environments – whether as a forklift operator or pedestrian. Details of all the campaigns can be found on the NFSD website – www.nationalforkliftsafetyday.co.uk  

The theme for the most recent Safety Convention was Implementing a Safety Culture. Delegates attending the 2023 event heard from keynote speaker John Dillon, Principal Consultant at safety specialist, Anker and March, that engaging with a workforce and empowering them to take responsibility for their own wellbeing was the key to establishing a successful safety culture.

The conference heard that the more empowered a workforce felt, the greater the likelihood was that it would feel valued and want to contribute to the development of the business. Delegates were also told that the safest businesses were often the ones where employees were encouraged to have a voice, where they felt free to air subjects which they felt could enhance safety protocols without fear of reprisal.

In addition to espousing safety messages, the UKMHA also represents the interests of hundreds of businesses by providing a range of services to help its members become more successful. These include exclusive access to UK MHE sales data, benchmarking tools, macro-economic forecasting models, full guidance on safety and compliance and consultation on future legislation affecting the material handling sector.

It also lobbies on behalf of the industry to ensure the needs of the industry are recognised at the highest level. This includes regular engagement with international policy makers, representation on UK and European standards committees and through its own Technical Policy Committee. 

In essence, the association is dedicated to creating an environment where all members can prosper and technical excellence is paramount.

Campaigns for 2024

National Forklift Safety Day - Tuesday 11th June

National Safety Convention - Autumn 2024 (Date to Confirmed)