An alert has been issued by WorkSafe after an incident involving a forklift occurred in Morwell. A truck driver was hit by a forklift while standing in front of his vehicle. The forklift is believed to have reversed into the man.
Concerns over the large number of accidents involving forklifts prompted Work Safe to issue the alert.
According to WorkSafe.vic.gov.au:
Today’s incident comes after three companies were prosecuted in the past week as a result of forklift–related incidents.
A printing company was fined $20,000 this morning, without conviction, after pleading guilty to an incident at its Tullamarine Print Centre where a worker was struck by a reversing forklift in December 2009.
The worker suffered serious injuries while working in a loading dock. The court found the site did not have adequate measures in place to reduce the risk of forklifts colliding with pedestrians.
Yesterday, a chicken processing company was fined $15,000, without conviction, after an employee was struck by a load fell and struck him causing him to suffer serious injuries including a broken leg in February 2010.
The company pleaded guilty at the Frankston Magistrates’ Court, to failing to provide a safe workplace.
The court was told a lack of traffic management and a lack of information, instruction and supervision contributed to the incident.
Last Thursday, another company was convicted and fined $100,000 after a worker fell almost two metres from a pallet that had been raised by a forklift.
The company which makes bubble wrap, pleaded guilty at the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court to two charges of failing to provide a safe workplace.
The October 2009 incident happened when the worker, was thrown from the elevated pallet after the forklift driver suddenly braked.
WorkSafe’s investigation found no safe working procedures were in place relating to this particular task and that the company failed to provide proper supervision, instruction and training.
All companies have since implemented relevant measures to eliminate the risk of incidents involving forklifts.
The primary responsibilities of Operators, Employers and Manufacturers are as follows:
- Operators need to be properly trained and should not ignore the rules of forklift driving, such as always wearing a seatbelt if the forklift is fitted with one, this could be life-saving if the forklift overturns. Operators should also complete a daily safety checklist, problems with the forklift should be noted so it can be addressed by employers.
- Employers have a primary duty to provide a safe workplace, training, well maintained machinery and effective traffic management plans all play an important part in reducing the risks posed by forklifts in the workplace. Employers need to ensure forklifts are operated in pedestrian exclusion zones with barricades and signage, they also ensure the speed limit in these zones in kept to a minimum.
- Manufacturers have a responsibility of providing all the necessary information on the forklift, its capabilities and limitations. In the design process, manufacturers can take steps to eliminate risks posed by forklifts in the workplace by introducing, and promoting, intelligent systems, such as speed limiters, load weighing devices etc.
According to Work Safe, half of all forklift incidents involve pedestrians. Pedestrian zones and forklifts should be clearly separated.
Work Safe also had this to say on the issue:
Put simply, pedestrians and forklifts do not mix.
Forklifts are one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment found in the workplace. Almost half of all people injured by a forklift are pedestrians. Simple measures can be put in place to separate foot and forklift traffic and help lower the injury rate.
Thinking strategically there are some obvious areas where forklift use should be prohibited or minimised, such as around tea rooms, time clocks, cafeterias, amenities and entrances. Designate exclusion zones for pedestrians and forklifts. Pedestrian exclusion zones should be enforced within a three metre radius of a forklift.
This distance should expand when the height of the forklift load or the speed travelled increases. If a pedestrian is within three metres of a forklift, employers are required to justify this practice through risk assessment and suitable risk control measures.
Pedestrian walkways must be clearly marked. Installing physical barriers ensures workstations are separated from forklift travel areas.
Audio warnings are just as important as visual ones. A mix of high volume alarms and horns coupled with flashing lights best warn pedestrians of approaching forklifts. Flashing lights are imperative in areas with high levels of ambient workplace noise.
Safety at intersections and blind corners can be enhanced by the addition of overhead dome mirrors, benefiting pedestrians and forklift operators. Avoid placing bins, racks or storage units that obstruct a forklift operator’s view at intersections or around corners.
Crushing is the most common form of forklift-related injury sustained by pedestrians. When you consider the difference in the load per wheel weights of a fully laden forklift and a standard family sedan you can better understand the impact being crushed by a forklift would have.
A more detailed list of responsibilities and procedures on forkllift safety can be found in the WorkSafe publication ‘Forklift Safety: Reducing the Risk’ which can be found at www.worksafe.vic.gov.au.