SafeWork NSW commences October forklift safety blitz
SafeWork NSW has announced that it will visit businesses that use forklifts, after the regulator released figures that revealed that an incident involving a forklift occurs every day, six days a week. SafeWork NSW Executive Director of Compliance and Resolution Tony Williams said incidents involving forklifts are one of the biggest issues the regulator has faced in the manufacturing space, adding that inspectors will be out in force and will fine operators that put people at risk. Williams noted that over the last two years, SafeWork NSW has recorded 598 incidents involving forklifts, five of which resulted in workplace fatalities. While not all the incidents involved an injury or death, many of them included collisions between forklifts and other vehicles, rollovers and objects falling off forklifts when loading or unloading.
The main factor that led to people being killed or seriously injured by a forklift was primarily inadequate separation between pedestrians and forklifts, which led to pedestrians being hit by a forklift or its load. Williams said that almost 75% of all incidents happen in five industries — transport, manufacturing, construction, retail and wholesale. “We have issued 494 notices to operators in the same time the 598 incidents happened — almost 20% of workplaces don’t have simple seatbelt compliance in place. The use of forklifts continues to grow and they are great tools for all sorts of businesses, but if we are not doing it safely then people will be forced to stop using them,” Williams said.
SafeWork’s 2021 Manufacturing Sector Plan, Forklift Compliance Project, commences this month and will see inspectors provide education to the industry and conduct compliance checks against high-risk industries. Improving forklift safety is one of the focus areas for SafeWork NSW, as part of October’s Safe Work Month. This year, NSW has nominated the theme of ‘Protecting Workers at Risk’ for its October program.
“While always checking on compliance, inspectors will be out educating users on forklift safety and ... warning businesses and drivers that if they are doing the wrong thing, they will be held accountable. But we will also engage, educate and build strong working relationships with identified high-risk industries, small businesses and locations to embed a culture of forklift safety,” Williams said.
SafeWork NSW has sent over 850 awareness letters to businesses encouraging them to get their workplaces in order, prior to inspections by SafeWork inspectors. “SafeWork will be targeting those in high-risk industries, but any workplace in NSW that uses a forklift should expect a visit from a SafeWork inspector who will be looking at a range of issues, including licensing, traffic management, seatbelts and forklift safety,” Williams said.
For resources related to SafeWork NSW’s Safe Work Month, visit www.safework.nsw.gov.au/advice-and-resources/campaigns/Safe-Work-Month.
For Australia-wide resources this National Safe Work Month, visit the Safe Work Australia website: www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/national-safe-work-month.
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