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Solution to Reduce Forklift Injury Statistics

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article image Pallets Moved Quickly and Safely without Forklifts

Although forklift truck fleets will have a certain place in industry for some time yet, Industrial Conveying (Aust) , an Australian materials handling specialist has opened the doors to change.  

Industrial Conveying is designing and engineering loading and unloading solutions where the function of forklifts is replaced by tailored automated solutions – a timely option to reduce the human risk factor from the warehousing and logistics equation.  

The introduction of its automated, PLC-driven technology solutions coincides with a time when workplace injury statistics reveal an alarming rate of forklift-related accidents around the country.

In Australia during the period 2000 to 2007, there were more than 7,400 work-related injuries where forklift trucks were the nominated ‘Agency of Accident’.

These figures are courtesy of the Australian Government’s Comcare unit, which is participating in a national campaign to assess and improve the level of forklift safety.

This campaign is being conducted by the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA), which is the joint national body of Australia’s OH&S authorities, of which Comcare is a member.

In the most recent statistical study during the period 2006/07 – 2007/08, Comcare accepted 177 claims where forklifts were involved costing employers nearly $1.4 million.

This national campaign specifically states an aim to reduce the rate of incidents and injury from forklift-related tasks such as loading and unloading vehicles.

The report goes on to say forklifts present a well-known hazard in many work environments, involving a high risk of severe work-related injury or fatality to operators, those working around forklifts and others in the workplace.

Managing Director of Industrial Conveying, Mr Don Erskine says if even just one serious injury in the workplace is prevented by equipping a loading and dock system with automated delivery, then the cost of the outlay will save a lot of personal tragedy - and certainly money.  

“The forklift is like any other vehicle, with wear and tear contributing to an ongoing repair cost and lessened performance as opposed to dock automation for instance, which lasts a very long time,” said Mr Erskine.  

“If a warehouse or transport depot is loading or unloading trucks with a forklift fleet, the downtime associated with a queue of waiting trucks can be extensive.  

“By habit, Australian companies find it very hard to take up future technologies and rarely consider a capital outlay versus the cost of running a forklift fleet.  

“But the culture is changing. For example, some operators who have made the switch took into account that an automated and highly efficient dock system will require about $300,000 in capital expenditure.  

“Whereas for a five-forklift fleet it could cost anywhere between $150,000 - $200,000 plus labour cost for drivers.  

“But – and this is the critical economic point - over a four to five-year period the ongoing maintenance bill of a forklift fleet will almost certainly far exceed the cost of dock automation.  

“In the medium to longer term, automated docks are a much cheaper and safer option for the workplace and the end user, reducing liabilities and in the process doing something about forklift-related injuries (and deaths), which are compromising the health of many individuals and costing Australian industry compensation claims measured in millions each year.”

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