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Operators work safely - if only for your own sakes


Sir, I have been following the story of telehandler visibility in CN. I was dismayed to read some of what John Arnott wrote (Letters, May 27).

I have been operating and instructing/assessing for these and many other items of plant for very many years - for CITB and other certification bodies.

I agree that telehandlers are notorious for a blind spot at the rear right, and this is proved by the many accidents reported.

I also agree that operators should be trained to rely more on looking over both shoulders before moving off than using just wing mirrors or other aids. But even if this is done there remains a blind spot, and any additional aids can only help, not hinder. Cameras and other vision aids will not make anything worse but may actually help.

Their use has been widespread in quarries and landfill (to name just two areas) for a long time.

Surely then we, especially as instructors, should be encouraging the use of anything that can help stop people going to hospital - not condemning it - while at the same time fostering good practice.

I conduct virtually all of my training and assessments on sites, often visiting four or five different companies and sites in one week.

It is virtually always the same: supervision is minimal or non-existent and usually confined to greater production with only lip service paid to safety matters.

This is the basis of nearly all the problems. You can have the best rules and methods in the world but if nobody onsite insists that they are adhered to, or if bad practice is encouraged when things are behind, then they are a waste of time and money, as is training.

But don't blame the supervisors.They are often not informed or trained and are usually under pressure.The message must come from the top of the organisation.

Bosses must locate time and resources and then enforce it absolutely.

No one must be in any doubt that safe practice will happen, otherwise it will not If you don't believe me ask any organisation within this industry what either their training or better still their health and safety budget is, if they have one.

This is not about rules and regulations for their own sake or stopping people from working, it is about stopping the operator going to hospital.

I say to operators: 'Be safe out there, not for me, not for the HSE, or even your organisation, but for yourself.'

Gary Marchant, by email