Last month, a worker on the Gold Coast was struck and subsequently run over by a forklift in the loading bay of an industrial workplace. The worker suffered serious injuries to his leg and shoulder. Investigations are underway as to how the incident occurred and how to prevent a similar incident in the future. Although all workplaces are different and need to be assessed individually, there are some common aspects of working safely around forklifts, we’ve covered just a few of them for you:

1. Create, implement and manage a traffic management plan.
A traffic management plan is designed to keep people and vehicles, including forklifts, away from each other as much as practical. Bollards and fencing can be a solution as a physical barrier, whilst clearly painted walkways may be suitable in other situations.

Speed limits, no-go zones, blind spots and vehicle space requirements, such as the turning circle, should all be reviewed and implemented as part of the traffic management system. Training and monitoring are a vital step in keeping the plan effective. This includes inductions for new employees, as well as re-induction for existing employees on a regular basis, or when following the traffic management plan starts falling by the wayside.

2. Complete a daily pre-start check of the forklift
Although it may seem onerous to employees, a forklift can be a dangerous piece of machinery, especially if it’s not operating properly. A daily, pre-start safety check should identify issues with signage, brakes and controls, unusual noises, flat tyres and reverse beepers, lights and horns, plus much more. If there are any issues, they should be reported to a supervisor and the forklift tagged out/key removed until resolved, in line with the relevant workplace Safe Operating Procedures.

3. Ensure all operators have a forklift licence and training.
In Queensland, forklift operators are required to have a High-Risk Work Licence (LF) and be deemed competent to operate the specific type of forklift at that workplace. Once licensed, a worker will still need specific training and induction to their workplace, for instance, working in cold rooms, or moving awkward loads.

Never assume that because someone has a forklift licence that they are confident in all aspects of using a forklift. Vice versa, never assume that someone who knows how to use a forklift is appropriately licensed.
By implementing these points, along with the relevant Codes of Practice and a good attitude towards safety, you’re taking the right first steps towards improved safety around forklifts in your workplace. For specific advice for your business, contact our workplace partners today.

Remember, this is general advice only and does not take your circumstances into account.