One touchy subject that many companies have to deal with is employing forklift operators with physical limitations. A common physical limitation the companies come across while training and licensing is people who cannot physically turn their heads far enough to the side to clearly check behind them before and while reversing.
According to Australian Forklift Training , a number of people do not have enough range of movement in their necks to look over both shoulders. Being overweight, old age, previous accidents and injuries are some of the factors that cause this physical limitation.
Australian Standards say operators shall “not have physical disabilities which could impair the safe operation of an industrial truck or endanger the safety of others” (saa industrial truck code part 2-operation, qualification of operators)
Telling experienced forklift operators that they cannot operate a forklift unless their physical limitations are addressed can be tricky.
There are a number of questions that need to be considered to avoid discrimination. Questions such as, can the persons disability be treated and are there other duties that they can perform without the use of a forklift are to be taken into account.
Although tricky, it is definitely a subject that needs to be dealt with because people who cannot clearly check behind them before reversing cannot legally or safely operate forklifts. Several operators hide their disability by using mirrors for reversing.
Mirrors are only there to see if a faster vehicle is approaching while driving forwards, and not for reversing. In order to operate safely, drivers need to be able to clearly look behind them and in both blind spots before reversing.