Australian Forklift Training recommend that all companies adopt a strict no smoking policy on and around all of their forklifts.
The batteries in electric machines produce explosive gases that can easily be ignited by a cigarette. LPG forklifts are only safe from explosions while the fuel system is in perfect working order. As soon as a small leak occurs, a lit cigarette can cause a large explosion.
The OHS Regulation (Division 7, Fire and explosion) gives employers the following information. 62 Fire and explosion-particular risk control measures
(1) An employer must ensure that risks associated with fire or explosion at a place of work are controlled by:
(a) eliminating activities that have the potential to generate flammable or explosive atmospheres from the work process or, if elimination is not possible, minimising the potential for flammable or explosive atmospheres by providing adequate ventilation, and
(b) eliminating potential ignition sources, including naked flame, hot work and electrical equipment, and sources of static electricity, including friction, welding and slipping belts, from proximity to flammable substances, combustible dusts or waist materials.
It is up to the employer to ensure that no ignition sources such as cigarettes are allowed to be around flammable substances or explosive atmospheres that include LPG, petrol, diesel, or electric forklifts.
There are other areas in the OHS Regulation that also back this up. In relation to refuelling and charging a forklift, the “Australian Standards” state that: Open flame and smoking are prohibited within 10m of any industrial truck being refuelled or recharged.
Measures should be put in place to ensure that smoking is refined to allocated areas on worksites. Forklift operators should not be allowed to smoke on or around a forklift under any circumstances.