Australian Forklift Training advises forklift operators and site supervisors to ensure people are not raised on fork arms, a pallet or anything other than an approved work platform or safety cage.
Almost every forklift operator has lifted someone standing on a pallet at some point and would have also escaped scrutiny by regulatory bodies.
Companies should ensure that forklifts are not used for lifting people. The real problem would come when the person being lifted is injured in any way and will not be covered by insurance. Even minor injuries resulting from a fall off a forklift can cost the company a lot of money, and serious injuries or a death will start an investigation that could potentially cripple a small business.
When a person falls from a lifted pallet and is injured, they’ll typically sue the individual operator who lifted them, or the company.
If the forklift operator is licensed, they’ll incur a WorkCover fine and also risk losing their license indefinitely. The company will have to prove that they have procedures in place for operating a forklift and that raising someone on a pallet or fork arms is against their procedures. They’ll also have to show what steps they have taken to ensure their operators are trained and aware of such procedures.
To raise people at the worksite, the company should use proper work platforms that can be approved for their forklifts so that people can be raised legally. The platform would have to be made and certified by one of the few authorised manufacturers and also be approved for use on the forklift.
It is illegal to use anything other than an approved work platform to lift people with a forklift. Work platforms are only supposed to be used to raise or lower people, not drive with someone inside. This is why most companies choose to hire or buy scissor lifts for stock takes and maintenance instead of work platforms. Scissor lifts are safer, require only one person to operate and can legally be driven with a person raised in the air.