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In many African countries, forklift training is practically non-existent. Many drivers are left to figure out for themselves how to operate forklifts and other types of heavy machinery. Not surprisingly, the result is often accidents resulting in damaged products and equipment, injuries to drivers and pedestrians, and even death.
But now a UK-based charity is taking aim at forklift safety in Africa and has teamed with a forklift distributor to provide training on the proper inspection, operation and maintenance of forklifts in the African nation of Zambia.
Addressing Critical Transportation Issues
Transaid is a charity sponsored by Britain’s Princess Margaret — the sister of Queen Elizabeth II — that focuses on improving transportation issues throughout Africa. In the past, it has provided motorcycles and bicycles for health workers in rural areas, worked with governments to improve the management of state-owned vehicle fleets, and promoted driver training to improve road safety.
Now Transaid has recruited Impact Handling — the UK’s only distributor of Cat forklifts — to help improve forklift safety in Africa. It is the first materials handling company to partner with the charity as a member of its board of directors.
Terry Kendrew, the company’s managing director, said Impact Handling will draw on its 30 years of forklift experience to help improve forklift safety in Zambia by providing “train the trainer” instruction and donations for equipment.
“Materials handling equipment is essential to supporting the safe and efficient growth of trade in Africa,” Kendrew said. “But too often operators jump onto machines without carrying out essential operational checks. We want to help Transaid address this issue by training instructors in the simple, but essential, inspections which should be carried out before using a forklift. Equally important is providing managers with advice on planned and preventative maintenance to ensure they get the best performance and reliability out of their equipment.”
Royal Support for Forklift Programs
Transaid has provided training for forklift operators at its Industrial Training Centre in Zambia since 2008. It provides similar programs in Uganda and Tanzania.
Princess Margaret, Transaid’s royal patron, said that since the charity was founded in 1998, it has addressed transportation issues — such as properly training forklift operators — becaue they are of primary importance for the economic growth and stability of African nations.
“When Transaid first started it was very much following the Save the Children’s ‘Stop Polio’ campaign, where logistics and transport were crucial to the delivery of the vaccine and it was the idea of getting expertise into the system that created Transaid,” the princess said during a recent appearance. “Transaid has taken on that role, but also has a real understanding of where you can make a difference through organizing better transport and logistics, as well as through driver training. And that has really stood the test of time, in terms of the quality of its work and people coming back for more advice.”
Besides providing forklift training, Transaid also creates transport management systems for the public sector and provides community-managed transport services, including its innovative bicycle ambulance program.