Forklift safety: Nip the dangers of nip points in the bud
In a reminder of the dangers of nip points, a transport freight company was convicted and fined $20,000 after one of its labour hire workers had a finger amputated following a crush injury.
At a depot in Victoria operated by Tasmanian Freight Services Pty Ltd, a labour hire worker was helping a forklift driver load a large pallet of goods onto a truck. The pallet load was not sitting properly and needed to be moved. The worker put a piece of wood in front of the pallet load, as a bearer, so the driver could use the forklift tynes to push against the wood. When the forklift started to move, the worker’s finger became jammed between the piece of wood and the pallet load and was amputated. Medical treatment was administered at the hospital, but the finger was not able to be reattached.
In imposing the penalty, the Court heard that the worker had only been placed at the site 1 month before the incident. There was a failure to have in place a safe system of work for moving the pallet loads, and a lack of training and supervision.
The case demonstrates the risks involved in using forklifts, including those identified by SafeWork NSW in its guidance materials, which are:
- being hit or crushed by a forklift;
- being hit or crushed by a load that the forklift is moving; and
- being crushed in a forklift tip-over.
SafeWork NSW gives the following tips to manage these risks:
- separate workers from moving forklifts, using barriers or guardrails;
- clearly mark walkways and safe work zones;
- make sure forklift operators only move loads that are stable on the pallet or use an attachment if needed;
- ensure forklift operators wear a seat belt; and
- make sure workers and visitors obey traffic management plans and site safety rules.
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