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Carolyn Kennedy (Project Manager, WorkSafe) tells us why forklifts and people don’t mix.
Even though fatalities involving forklifts have reduced significantly over the past decade, incidents involving forklifts and pedestrians continue at an unacceptably high rate – 143 between January 2010 and February 2011. Around 80 per cent of these occurred in warehousing environments.
What employers must do:
1. Ask ‘are forklifts really necessary for the work to be done?’ Could a less hazardous alternative item of plant be used (eg hand or powered pallet truck, electric tug, tow tractor)?
2. Develop a traffic management plan for the workplace that includes:
3. Identify areas where forklifts and pedestrians could interact. A useful approach is to use a map of the workplace to identify these areas in consultation with health and safety representatives and workers, and mark areas from high to low potential for interaction.
4. The ‘three metre rule’ is outdated. Employers need to assess forklift operations to determine the actual separation distances and types of barriers that will be needed, considering:
5. Based on the assessment of forklift operations, controls must be put in place that physically separate pedestrians from areas of forklift operation at all times so far as is reasonably practicable. This can be achieved by:
Painted lines on the ground are not an effective way to separate pedestrians from operating forklifts.
Food manufacturing and processing, wood product manufacturing, fabricated metal, transport equipment manufacturing, plastics and rubber manufacturing, road transport, warehousing and storage and residential aged care services will all receive visits as part of this campaign.
WorkSafe estimates that they will visit 4,000 businesses in the target industries over the next year.