Forklifts are an indispensable part of many warehouses and industrial facilities across the country.
Forklifts are able to transfer and stack loads with ease, increasing the productivity of work while also eliminating the risks involved with manual handling.
At first glance, forklifts may seem harmless, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. While forklifts may have a smaller stature then most plant in the workplace, they actually weigh on average 4000kg, which is three times the weight of an average car. Because of this, forklifts are often an overlooked risk in the workplace.
Consequently, there are numerous forklift accidents in the workplace each year, including two forklift fatalities occurring in NSW in just the past 6 months. While forklifts provide countless benefits to efficiency and productivity, its vital that their risks are recognised and controlled in the workplace.
There are many things that can go wrong when working with or operating forklifts. Some of the most common forklifts incidents are a result of:
· Overturing and tipping, crushing the operator.
· Falling loads colliding with personnel
· Falling from raised forklift arms.
· Poor or no Traffic Management plan in place, resulting in collision with workers.
· Defective forklifts that are poorly maintained.
· Operators not abiding by site rules or safe work instructions increasing likelihood of incident (i.e. speeding, no seatbelt, beeping before corners)
It is important that workplaces consider these risks and have all the necessary controls in place to keep both workers and operators safe.
Below are some simple and effective controls that can help manage the risks of forklifts in your workplace:
· Create exclusion zones to separate people from the forklifts.
· Create a traffic management plan, marking walkways and safe work zones.
· Ensure all workers/visitors understand and comply with the Traffic management plan.
· Ensure workers wear appropriate protective equipment (seatbelt, Hi-Vis).
· Conduct brief Forklift pre-start checks to make sure it is in safe, working condition.
· Ensure forklift operators comply with site rules and only move stable loads that are within the forklifts load capacity.
· Ensure that safe working procedure is developed and understood by all operators.
· Conduct continual maintenance checks/servicing in accordance with manufactures instruction.
· Install physical barriers to prevent the forklift from hitting persons or structure.
Forklifts incidents are something that can easily be prevented when the appropriate controls are in place and complied with.
It is important that businesses are aware of the risks involved when using forklifts in the workplace and that workers are provided with adequate training and information to manage these risks at the ground level.
For more information on how to keep your workplace safe, check SafeWork NSW resources below: