New Guidance, Inspections Target Forklift Safety

The newly-published guidance provides practical advice to employers on the safe use and maintenance of forklifts and highlights the need to separate forklifts from people on the ground.

WorkSafe data shows on average more than one worker every week in Victoria is seriously injured after being struck by forklifts or falling forklift loads.

The guidance outlines ways to reduce the risk by ensuring traffic management systems, such as physical barriers, exclusion zones and signage are in place.

The guidance also encourages employers to consider retrofitting relatively low-cost safety technology such as sequential seatbelt interlocks, which prevents the forklift being started without a seatbelt in place, and proximity devices that detect pedestrians and automatically power mobile plant down to low speed.

From this week, WorkSafe inspectors will target forklift safety in a state-wide inspection program, with a particular focus on the manufacturing, postal and warehousing sectors, where the majority of forklift-related deaths and injuries occur.

Sadly, eight people have been killed in forklift-related workplace incidents since 2019, including three pedestrians working near forklifts. Pedestrians also accounted for 65 of the 157 accepted claims last year where the cause of injury was a forklift incident.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said it was crucial for employers to have the right information and guidance to better manage the risks of forklifts in their workplaces.

“Forklifts are an important piece of machinery for many Victorian workplaces, however, if not used and managed safely, they also have the potential to cause serious harm,” Dr Beer said.

“Through measures such as this new guidance and the work of our inspectors, WorkSafe is ensuring employers are taking proactive steps to ensure their workers and others are safe around forklifts.”

WorkSafe would not hesitate to take action where employers were found to be putting workers in danger.

In the past 12 months, fines and undertakings totalling more than $2.4 million were imposed or accepted by the courts for 16 WorkSafe prosecutions involving forklifts.

This includes Victoria’s first workplace manslaughter prosecution in February, in which LH Holding Management Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $1.3 million after a 25-year-old sub-contractor died when a forklift being operated by the company director with a raised load on a sloping driveway tipped over and landed on top of him.

View the new forklift guidance at worksafe.vic.gov.au/resources/forklift-safety-guidebook-pdf-version

/Public Release. View in full here.