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The Forklift Association (TFA) has been created with the aim of focusing on the needs of those companies that use forklifts

Forklift users find
industry support

Frustrated by an apparent lack of clarity, many forklift users have joined forces under a new industry association to find improvements in productivity and safety.

The Forklift Association (TFA) was established last year by industry stalwarts Andrew Stone and Stu Lees after feedback from companies that operate forklifts which indicated there were gaps in their understanding of how best to operate forklifts safely and efficiently.

“At times, as a customer of a forklift supplier, it is hard to be confident you have the right equipment, operating in the right way to get the optimal result for your business,” says Andrew Stone. “By establishing TFA, we’ve set out to bring fresh, independent advice to a market which has at times been less than ideal.”
TFA co-founder Andrew Stone: “We support our members by helping to develop safety leadership within their culture”

Recognising the common difficulties in procuring forklift equipment, Andrew says he and co-founder Stu Lees created TFA with the aim of focusing on the needs of those companies that use forklifts. Members currently range from very large organisations with multiple forklift brands and models to small warehouse operators with a single hard-working machine.

Knowledge base

Membership of TFA is by way of annual subscription, and members gain access to a comprehensive knowledge base which includes an online ‘toolkit’ that provides guidance on optimising existing equipment, buying and selling, and building a broad business case for forklifts. Events are held regionally and nationally to allow members to learn directly from relevant experts.

“Many companies have been trained by their supplier to focus on the ticket price of the equipment, which is very often a false perspective,” says Andrew. “Yes, you need to get the best price you can, but saving $2000 by haggling for the wrong piece of equipment is not smart. Purchasers need to be very conscious of the type of machine and energy system that will best meet their needs and complement their existing forklift fleet; they should take a lifetime view of the asset purchase. If not, they’ll stay in the dark ages of productivity and safety.”

Andrew says a fundamental gap in forklift operations is industry standards. “You’d think there would be a ‘warrant of fitness’ used, but there’s not. You’d think there would be a decent common standard of training, but there’s not. You’d think there would be common safety measures on sites, but there’s not. We’re investing heavily in changing this as fast as we can, so that companies can understand their equipment and how their people are trained, and be confident that their site practices exceed a reasonable and practicable standard,” he adds.

“The great news is that we’ve already had incredible engagement and support from a variety of industry leaders wanting to help solve these problems as end-user operators of forklifts.”

Health and safety failings

The spotlight is falling more and more on health and safety around forklift operations, with forklifts being a significant cause of injuries and fatalities, according to WorkSafe. Andrew agrees: “The bottom line is that no preventable injury or fatality is OK. From the perspective of the people involved, it is an unthinkable event when things go wrong – nobody expects their friend or loved one to be harmed or killed as part of their everyday work,” he says. 

“Forklift operations are incredibly dangerous. Even from a financial perspective, a single failing under the Health and Safety at Work Act will cost any business a massive financial hit, and so it should. Profitability should never be achieved at the cost of people’s safety.”

TFA provides its members with comprehensive health and safety guidance for forklift operations, ranging from pre-start checklists right through to a PCBU’s (person conducting a business or undertaking) obligations for reporting an incident. 

“Whether a company operating a forklift knows it or not, they have serious obligations which are quite manageable. It’s not complex and takes a regular small effort. We support our members by helping to develop safety leadership within their culture,” Andrew says.

Companies that have already joined TFA are noticing benefits such as clarity of workplace policies, racking compliance and product-sourcing insights. “I recently visited a member’s site following an accident and our independent perspective will assist them to avoid a serious accident being repeated,” says Andrew. “We shoot straight but fair, with an independent perspective and current advice.”

For further information, visit www.tfa.org.nz

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