NT: safety alert issued after worker injured using forklift workbox

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Tuesday, 20 September, 2022 - 12:30
Policy & legislation
Northern Territory

NT WorkSafe recently issued a safety alert after a worker in the commercial fishing industry was seriously injured after falling over 3.6 metres.

The worker was in a mesh storage cage-raised on forklift tynes when the incident occurred, and preliminary findings indicate the worker’s weight may have shifted causing the mesh storage cage to unbalance and fall.

The worker landed on concrete and suffered serious injuries including a punctured lung, broken teeth, rib fractures and serious lacerations to the inside of the mouth.

The alert said there were a number of possible contributing factors:

  • The mesh storage cage used was not fit for purpose as a workbox for workers to work from

  • The mesh storage cage was not secured to the forklift.

  • The worker was not wearing a safety harness.

  • The forklift operator had exited the forklift when the incident occurred.

The alert subsequently recommended a number of required actions:

  • Only use workboxes and other forklift attachments that have been designed by a competent engineer and manufactured by a competent person.

  • Workboxes should only be used on forklifts with a load capacity data plate stating attachments may be used.

  • Workboxes must be securely attached to the forklift and should only be used to lift workers for short-term tasks.

  • Ensure workers are trained in the safe use of workboxes including emergency procedures to ensure occupants can be rescued if an incident or breakdown occurs.

  • Workbox occupants should wear a safety harness if there is a risk of them falling.

Before the workbox occupant starts work, the alert said:

  • Ensure traffic management plans are in place to deal with tasks involving workboxes.

  • Ensure the forklift parking brake is set, the controls are in neutral, the mast is vertical, and all controls are immobilised except lift and lower.

  • Workers must stand on the floor of the workbox, not on a ladder or other object.

  • The forklift operator should perform an initial trial lift without a person inside, to ensure the cage has a clear path.
  • The forklift operator must remain at the controls at all times when there is a person elevated in the workbox.