SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMEs) CANNOT AFFORD ACCIDENTS
Almost a decade past the financial crisis of 2008 has made us realize the heavy impact it had on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in many countries around the world. However, SMEs are starting to slowly grow steadily with a good revenue stream. Many may be in their startup phase or after, post crisis. Whether you are beginning to return to decent earnings or invest heavily to expand, the least you can afford is to ruin the business by in house personal injuries. For any SME that uses forklifts, the costs associated in having forklift accidents can seriously damage the reputation of the firm and ruin a stable revenue stream.
The first obvious cost associated is fines. Fines can range from USD 2000 to 190,000 (approx) depending on the seriousness of the accident 1. Fines are presented in the form of prosecutions by different health or safety agencies around the world. In January of 2014, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK successfully won a case against vegetable business Lincolnshire Field Products Ltd who was fined £165,000 due to the death of a manager by a forklift truck.
The second significant cost associated with these accidents is downtime. For a manufacturing business where forklifts are mainly present, a production line can shut down in case of a forklift accident which will cost the company money in regards to sales. In addition, there are repairs and maintenance fees, and employment replacement fees incurred post incident. Even if the business is back on its feet, it will take some time to gain its maximum productivity. To determine downtime cost per an appropriate unit is difficult but achievable by efficient fleet managers (Can range from USD 25- 50$ per hour) 3.
Fines and downtime are the two biggest contributors to forklift accident costs but there is a new wave of other less tangible costs included. For example, no company would want to end up in a PR fallout because clients or potentials clients may think twice before buying from a company that lack operational procedures. There have also been reports of costs linked to the negative psychological and behavioral consequences of employees 3 that follow the aftermath of a serious incident. However, how to quantify them has yet to be determined.
Accidents in the workplace can easily be avoided through various means such as segregation of workers from unauthorized areas, better layout, thorough training of operators and many more. “Whilst there is a certain amount of responsibility placed on the forklift operator, it is up to management to oversee the operation,” said Laura Nelson, operations director for RTITB which is a regulatory body for workplace transport training in the UK. “This helps to avoid accidents in the workplace and also prevents potential damage to valuable stock or equipment.”