Forklift and traffic management

By Michael Selinger on June 14th, 2018
  1. Risk Management
  2. Workplace Safety


Poor traffic management and unsafe use of forklifts continue to cause workplace havoc and have again prompted a safety blitz from the safety regulators.

Recently, SafeWork NSW reported that its inspectors visited 180 businesses in March and found significant safety breaches involving forklifts and traffic management, leading to more than 90 notices being issued.

The most common breaches identified were faulty and unsafe forklifts, drivers not wearing seatbelts, and poor traffic management.

Additional blitz operations are continuing in July as part of SafeWork’s ‘Take forking safety seriously’ program, aimed at reducing deaths and injuries from the use of forklifts.

During 2017, SafeWork NSW reported that four NSW businesses were prosecuted, and fined a total of $835,000.

In other jurisdictions, regular prosecutions are taking place for these incidents as well.

In Victoria last week, the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court fined a timber manufacturing company, Creel Manufacturing, $30,000 after an incident on 30 March 2017 when an employee reversed a forklift into another employee. The employee suffered a broken leg and crush injuries.

At the worksite there were no clearly marked paths for pedestrians, designated areas for the operation of mobile plant and no barriers or bollards separating pedestrians from mobile plant.

And on the Gold Coast in May this year, it was reported that a worker was struck and run over by a reversing forklift in the loading bay of an industrial workplace.

The Queensland safety regulator has reminded businesses to ensure their traffic management plans are in place and, wherever possible, physical barriers such as bollards or railed walkways should be installed to separate pedestrians from forklifts.

Importantly, a traffic management plan needs to ensure:

  • no-go zones are clearly isolated and marked;
  • it is made clear throughout the site whether the forklift or the pedestrian has the right of way;
  • PPE, such as high-vis vests, are warn where forklifts are operating;
  • traffic directions and speed limits are clearly signed and followed; and
  • floor markings are clear and not faded.

The Queensland safety regulator has reported that since 2012 an average of 430 workers compensation claims were accepted in relation to injuries involving forklifts, 40% of which were serious.

In the same period, there were 137 notifications of incidents involving workers or bystanders being struck, trapped or run over by a forklift, two of which resulted in fatalities.

Lessons for you

If your business uses forklifts, or your workers are exposed to forklifts at the premises of other organisations as part of their workday, you must take proactive steps to ensure a traffic management plan is in place and is being effectively implemented, which includes training your workers to follow the safety procedures.

This type of information can be found in the following chapters of the Health & Safety Handbook:

  • Traffic Management
  • Safe Operating Procedures
  • Training and Induction
  • Hazard Identification
  • Health & Safety Policies and Procedures

Each chapter is written in plain English by the health and safety experts at Holding Redlich. Don’t delay, order your copy of the Handbook today and put this great business tool to work at your organisation.


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