NSW launches forklift safety blitz

Week-long SafeWork NSW action to focus on forklift safety through traffic management, licensing

NSW launches forklift safety blitz
Developing traffic management plans and ensuring all drivers are properly licensed are two key SafeWork NSW recommendations


Inspectors from SafeWork NSW will visit a series of companies across Sydney to check they are meeting forklift safety and licensing laws as part of a week-long safety blitz.

SafeWork NSW executive director Peter Dunphy said too many workers were being injured and killed in incidents involving forklifts.

During 2017, four NSW businesses were prosecuted by SafeWork NSW and fined a total of $835,000 for incidents where workers were injured or killed by a forklift.

Among these was truck driver Rami Eayla, who suffered a fractured leg when he was struck by glass panels that were not adequately restrained on a forklift operated by an unlicensed driver.

A NSW meat processing business was also fined $375,000 in September last year over the death of a worker in an accident two years earlier, when he was crushed against a wall after the handbrake of the forklift he had been operating failed.  

Dunphy says that despite the inherent dangers of forklifts in the workplace, Safework NSW "strongly" believed incidents can be reduced.

Among the ways to do this was to introduce a traffic management plan that separates pedestrians and vehicles, he says.

"A traffic management plan should include signage, ‘no go’ zones, use of pedestrian walkways, and exclusion zones during loading and unloading.

"Businesses should also ensure forklift operators have a current and valid licence, and always wear a seat belt," he said.  

Tips for owners and operators

Between July 2014 and July 2016, 1,355 workers were injured in forklift incidents, which included three fatalities, and cost the NSW workers compensation system more than $30.5 million.

In an information sheet developed by SafeWork Australia, the body says that most forklift incidents involve pedestrians.

"High visibility work wear should be worn if walking outside of designated walkways," the worksheet says.

"Businesses should minimise blind spots and highlight intersections and restricted areas. If there is a right-of-way, make sure that everyone is aware of it."

The information sheet also recommends that forklift drivers hold a high risk work forklift licence, that pre-start safety checks are completed every time a different forklift issued and that forklifts are fitted with the appropriate lifting attachments for the load they are handling.

Read more of the Safe Work Australia guidelines here.

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