Vic launches new guidance, campaign targeting forklift safety

Friday, 24 May, 2024

Vic launches new guidance, campaign targeting forklift safety

WorkSafe Victoria has released new guidance and launched an inspection program to help reduce the risk of forklift-related deaths and injuries. The guidance provides advice for employers about the safe use and maintenance of forklifts, highlighting the need to separate forklifts from people on the ground.

Data from WorkSafe shows that 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 advises employers to consider retrofitting low-cost safety technology such as sequential seatbelt interlocks, which prevent the forklift from 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 visit businesses in the manufacturing, postal and warehousing sectors as part of the statewide campaign targeting forklift safety. 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 in 2023 where the cause of injury was a forklift incident.

WorkSafe Executive Director (Health and Safety) Narelle Beer said it is 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. 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,” Beer said.

Beer also cautioned that WorkSafe will not hesitate to take action where employers are 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 the death of a 25-year-old sub-contractor. The sub-contractor sustained fatal injuries 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.

Image credit: Minramun

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