This guide will help you hold toolbox talks with your workers about the three main causes of forklift deaths and serious injuries in NSW, which are:
1. pedestrians being hit by a forklift
2. pedestrians or drivers being hit by the load a forklift is carrying or lifting
3. drivers being crushed in a tip-over.
When it comes to working safely around forklifts, businesses are responsible for the health and safety of workers, contractors, volunteers, and any visitors to your site.
By law you must:
• identify and act on any potential hazards
• put systems in place for the safe use of forklifts
• provide suitable information, training, instruction or supervision to keep workers safe
• notify SafeWork NSW of all serious injuries/illnesses and dangerous incidents.
We have resources and guides about working safely with forklifts, which can downloaded free from the SafeWork NSW website www.safework.nsw.gov.au or by calling 13 10 50.
These three toolbox talks will help you to start a safety conversation with your workers about forklifts.
You should always encourage and support safety behaviour in your workplace, and get serious about forking safety.
Preparation for the talk
Workers who work near moving forklifts
Make sure there are barriers and/or clearly marked pedestrian walkways and safety zones in the workplace. See SafeWork Australia’s Workplace Traffic Management Guidance material for more information.
Make sure you have internet access (ie phone or tablet) to show our forklift safety video
Have a forklift (with a load on the forks) in a safe accessible place, making sure it is secure, with the ignition keys removed.
Print out the SafeWork NSW Take Forking Safety Seriously guides for operators and people who work near forkfifts.
Pedestrians are most at risk of being hit by a forklift if they are:
• walking alongside it
• picking stock off a nearby shelf
• walking in between it and a truck
• stepping into its path, or
• assisting with loading/unloading
A large distributor was moving frozen product in the lead up to Christmas. The loading dock was much more crowded than usual, limiting visibility. A worker entered the loading dock to check stock for a pickup later in the afternoon. As he was checking, he had his back turned to the freezer. A forklift came out of the freezer in reverse and hit the worker, causing serious lower leg injuries. There were clearly marked walkways with barriers throughout most of the workplace; however, the stock could not have been checked from the walkway. The driver was wearing a hoodie and had earphones in listening to music. The forklift was fitted with a working reversing sensor but it could not be heard over the sound of the freezers. The forklift driver said he sounded his horn before reversing and was also looking behind but CCTV footage showed he was looking toward the front of the forklift.
- Better staggering of product to prevent forklifts being in the same place as workers
- Re-schedule work activities so that forklifts are not in operation at the same time as workers checking stock
- Forklift driver checked over his shoulders
- Driver should have worn a beanie instead of a hoodie, to enable better vision
- Used proximity devices for forklifts and pedestrians
- Used pallet jacks instead of forks during busy time
- Not worn headphones on or near forklifts
Workers who have never driven a forklift don’t realise how a driver’s vision is impaired by the mast and load when driving. Get your workers who have never driven a forklift to sit in the driver’s seat (making sure the forklift has been secured so it can’t move with keys removed) to demonstrate a drivers impaired vision. Ask your workers to point out the main blind spots, such as mast and load. Also ask workers to look over their should to see how vision is obscured when travelling in reverse.
Practical exercise completed?
It’s important to remember that working safely in and around forklifts is everyone’s responsibility
Is there anything that we could be doing better in our workplace in relation separating people and forklifts?
Any other notes / suggestions?