Workplace Health and Safety Queensland recently issued a safety alert following an incident in which a worker on private property was fatally injured when a telehandler ran over him. Early investigations show the telehandler was loading a crop-dusting plane with fertiliser at a private airstrip on the property when the operator reversed it over a worker.
Telehandlers, short for telescopic handlers, are versatile hydraulic lifting units often used in the construction, farming and agriculture sectors.
Modern telehandlers are manoeuvrable hybrid units that offer the load-lifting capabilities of a forklift with the lifting range of a crane. Units are equipped with a telescopic boom that can be fitted with a range of attachments to allow a variety of functions.
The alert recommended a number of possible control measures to prevent similar incidents and said employers and self-employed people are required to control the risk associated with the mobile plant, including the risk of pedestrians being struck by telehandlers.
Before operating a powered mobile plant, the person with management or control of it must ensure:
The alert also said a traffic management plan should be developed by the PCBU in consultation with workers and others in the workplace. Everyone affected by the plan must understand it and follow it.
An effective traffic management plan includes broad types of control measures to:
The best way to protect pedestrians is to make sure people and vehicles cannot interact. This can be achieved by not allowing vehicles into pedestrian spaces or not allowing pedestrians into vehicle operating areas.
However, this may not always be reasonably practicable. If people and vehicles cannot be separated, consider: