In a bid to help the industry slow the spread of the deadly virus and to keep industry workers safe, the British Industrial Truck Association is producing a series of Fact Sheets to identify safe working practices during the current coronavirus emergency. Due to the critical role the materials handling industry is playing in maintaining the UK’s essential services, they have opted to make the information freely available.
The Association has reorganised its website (www.bita.org.uk) and created a new Coronavirus section where the Fact Sheets can be accessed by anyone needing to check the latest information. Guidance on standing down MHE, cleaning equipment to reduce the risk of spread of infection, protocols for service engineers visiting customer sites and much more is all available.
“In the current emergency, the ability of the logistics industry to maintain an uninterrupted supply of essential goods such as food and medical supplies is vital to the nation’s wellbeing – and the role played by the materials handling sector in this cannot be overlooked.”
BITA has also collaborated with fellow industry body, the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) on a joint statement highlighting the importance of maintaining Thorough Examination standards during the ongoing emergency. BITA, FLTA and the HSE have combined to provide the Fact Sheet on Thorough Examination, which clarifies the existing general HSE guidance in a specific MHE and logistics industry context.
The move has been recognised by the UK Government, which has included BITA on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) listing of trade bodies providing coronavirus-related support for their individual sectors. Without a dedicated Materials Handling category, BITA has been listed in the Automotive category, alongside the high-profile automotive trade body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Simon Barkworth, president, BITA said: “It is gratifying to receive Government recognition for our efforts but that is not the reason we have taken the action we have. In the current emergency, the ability of the logistics industry to maintain an uninterrupted supply of essential goods such as food and medical supplies is vital to the nation’s wellbeing – and the role played by the materials handling sector in this cannot be overlooked. Without MHE being able to operate at peak efficiency then the ability of the logistics industry to fulfil its requirements will be in jeopardy.
“We have therefore seized the initiative and begun producing these Fact Sheets so that everyone working in the materials handling industry can instantly check on what the latest safety requirements are and how these should be implemented. In this way, we hope to control the spread of infection and ensure the materials handling industry remains operationally effective.
“Here at BITA we stand ready to support this vital industry in whatever way we can and as such, I would urge everyone in the industry to read the latest guidance and ensure it is followed.”
The Association remains in close contact with bodies such as the Health & Safety Executive to ensure the information contained in the Fact Sheets remains relevant. All material is subject to regular review and where necessary, the guidance is being updated to ensure it remains current.