WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about the hazards and risk controls associated with forklifts, following an incident in which a mechanic died after being crushed between a forklift mast and a rolled-up section of excavator track.
He was standing on the forklift between the track and the mast of the forklift, while oxy-cutting a section of track that was resting in the middle of the tines. A section of excavator track became destabilised and pinned him against the forklift.
WorkSafe Victoria, which is currently investigating this incident, said forklifts are one of the most hazardous workplace vehicles and are frequently found in warehouses, workshops and factories. Their improper use is a common cause of serious incidents.
The alert said there are considerable risks when safe systems of work aren’t in place for tasks involving the use of forklifts.
People operating or working around forklifts may become complacent because they are quiet, in frequent use and form part of the work environment. However, incidents involving forklifts are usually serious and often fatal.
The alert suggested a number of recommended ways to control risks
Employers were reminded that forklift operation requires training and instruction so that a worker can understand the nature of the hazards associated with the work and that risk control measures are implemented to deal with these hazards.
A person must not perform high risk work, including the operation of a forklift, unless the person holds the appropriate licence, according to the alert, which said employers must: