Two workers killed after being crushed by forklifts

Tuesday, 13 August, 2019

Two workers killed after being crushed by forklifts

Forklifts and associated loads can cause serious crush injuries to plant operators and pedestrians, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHS Queensland) warned after two workers died in separate forklift-related incidents. According to WHS Queensland, one worker was killed when a reversing forklift crushed them against a truck at a transport yard in May 2019, while the other was crushed by a portable generator that was being unloaded from a truck by a forklift in July. Investigations into both incidents are continuing.

To prevent similar incidents, WHS Queensland is urging persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) to ensure they implement control measures that most effectively eliminate, or where not reasonably practicable, minimise risk to workers, based on the hierarchy of control. For example, where forklift use or associated hazardous work practices cannot be eliminated, PCBUs might consider substituting the plant with a safer alternative, such as a conveyor system.

If PCBUs continue using forklifts, safety barriers, containment fences, boom gates or overhead walkways should be installed to isolate pedestrians from the plants. Dedicated waiting areas and exclusion zones should also be created to prevent interactions between forklifts and pedestrians while unloading occurs. Where possible, workers should not access loading/receiving areas when forklifts are operating.

Engineering controls, such as alarms, horns and flashing lights fitted to the forklift, as well as proximity devices that trigger signals, boom gates and warning signs can help warn pedestrians and operators to stay out of each other’s way. Speed-limiting devices can also be fitted. Next, PCBUs should implement administrative controls, including a traffic management plan, staff training and warning sign installation. Employers and supervisors should understand how loads and loading are being controlled, how to read load capacity data plates, as well as the forklifts’ capacity and why they should adhere to it.

All forklift operators must hold high-risk work licences or be an authorised trainee, WHS Queensland added. Operators should be prevented from using a forklift around pedestrians and must ensure loads do not exceed the forklift’s rated capacity. Forklift operators and pedestrians should wear personal protective equipment, such as high-visibility or reflective clothing, and forklifts should display high-visibility markings. WHS Queensland advised that control measures should be regularly reviewed to ensure they are working as planned.

More information on forklift safety can be found via WHS Queensland’s website.

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