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Temp staff ‘a threat to supply chain safety’

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A rising trend of temporary employment in supply chain companies is putting safety at risk, a leading forklift truck company has warned.

With economic growth stalling and many companies attempting to cut costs, the level of temporary employees has been growing over the last few months.

Forklift firm Jungheinrich has seen a rise in temporary factory workers using its machines and warns that this could lead to an increase in industrial accidents.

Peter Scott, Jungheinrich UK’s Group Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Manager, commented: “We are already seeing growth in the use of agency staff and it is no coincidence that our records show that accidents rates have gone up in tandem.

“Our figures indicate that agency workers are involved in more forklift accidents than permanent staff.”

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics today show that the number of people in part-time work because they could not find a full-time job rose by 44,000 to 1.19 million in the three months to the end of December.

The HSE is in charge of regulating the competency of companies’ forklift drivers but agency staff can sometimes fall into a grey area where firms are responsible for checking their qualifications.

“It is an agency’s responsibility to provide staff that are trained to operate the materials handling equipment which they will be using,” Scott added.

“But it is down to the company employing them to ensure that the workers are familiar with the environment and layout of the warehouse where they will work.”

Many retailers are attempting to make cost efficiencies, with Thorntons and Game Group announcing restructuring today, and so it is likely than many may cut back on their full-time warehouse staff.

However, industrial accidents can not only undermine cost saving initiatives by causing loss but could also result in expensive legal battles.

Scott said: “It is depressing but true that in these days of no-win, no-fee solicitors and the general compensation culture that has taken hold in the UK, some forklift drivers will view an accident as a potential money making opportunity, so it is essential that companies continue to invest in forklift operator training.”

Published on Wednesday 16 February by Editorial Assistant

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