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Forklift Danger Safety Alert: Working with forklifts

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Absolute Forklift Training  advises forklift users to be always aware of the inherent dangers of using a forklift.

WorkCover recently responded to two incidents involving workers who were injured during the shifting of loads by forklifts.

In the first incident, a worker received crush injuries when chains used to suspend the load slipped off the tines, causing the load to fall. In the second incident, a heavy concrete pit, which was being placed on a rack with a forklift toppled onto a worker.

Though investigations are underway, both incidents point to correct procedures not being followed for lifting, transporting and lowering the load, causing the load to lose its stability. Additionally, workers near the forklift were not safely positioned.

Key forklift safety pointers for employers and operators

In addition to ensuring that the plant is safe when properly used, employers must also develop and implement safe systems of work and ensure that employees are provided with the information, instruction, training and supervision required to ensure their health and safety at work.

Forklift operators must be trained and also hold a relevant license. They must be competent in operating the forklift in the environments in which they are required to work.

Before lifting a load, the weight, size, shape and composition of a load should be considered, along with the terrain of operation. Loads must be lifted, carried and stored in a manner that ensures stability at all times.

When carrying loads, sudden or heavy braking that could cause the load to slide forwards must be avoided.

Employers must provide appropriate equipment to lift and transport loads including various attachments when the tines alone are not suitable. However, attachments must be used only if allowed by the manufacturer. Load rating for the combined use of the attachment with the forklift should be prominently displayed.

Employers must implement controls to prevent forklifts colliding with pedestrians or other mobile plants. These could include traffic management plans, signage, proximity warning devices, ‘no-go’ and ‘pedestrians only’ areas, site layout, using safely positioned spotters and other similar measures.

Forklifts have numerous blind spots, especially if the carried load obstructs forward view. Operators should ensure other persons are excluded from the area or where this is not practical, remain in view at all times. Workers in the vicinity of operating forklifts should position themselves to be visible by the driver and remain clear of the travel path.

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