WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert following an incident in which the operator of a reach forklift was fatally injured when the forklift struck items that were stored at height and overhanging the aisle, causing the items to fall and strike the operator on the head.
The alert said items stored in storage racking should not be overhanging, and in the event that a forklift strikes overhanging items could become dislodged or unstable, putting employees at risk of serious or fatal injuries due to falling items.
The alert recommended a number of ways to control risks:
Any storage racking used in the workplace should be designed specifically for the size, shape, and weight of the items being stored.
The layout of racking and storage of items on/in the racking should be compatible with the material handling equipment used in the workplace. For example, the aisle width should match the turning circle of the forklift used for picking and replenishment.
Items stored should be contained within the parameters of the racking.
Ensure items being stored are secured appropriately to avoid collapse.
Under the Australian Standard AS4084 2012 (Steel storage racking), it is mandatory for all businesses to have their racking inspected at least once every 12 months, regardless of size, working loads or traffic.
This also provides the opportunity to check the contents and ensure the safe and stable storage of all items, and compliance may be achieved by, but is not limited to:
providing a safe system of upright storage which includes no items being stored that protrude or project in a way that they may come into contact with powered mobile plant
providing a fixed physical barrier to prevent any powered mobile plant or pedestrians being able to travel underneath or in close proximity of overhanging items
fitting forklifts with an operator protective device (falling object protective structure) to protect the operator in the event of items falling from overhead storage racks