Forklifts and pedestrians don’t mix

SafeWork SA Inspectors responded to the December incident after a reversing forklift knocked the worker to the ground, causing multiple injuries.

In the wake of the incident, and given the busy time of the year, businesses are being reminded to ensure they have robust traffic management plans in place to eliminate the risk of a collision between people and forklifts.

Forklifts must also be serviced and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements and only be operated by a competent person with a high-risk work licence (Class – LF).

When fully laden, the average forklift can weigh up to five tonnes and in most cases cannot utilise their maximum braking capacity due to the load shifting on the tines or the forklift tilting forwards.

Even at low speeds, forklifts can cause serious injuries and fatalities to other workers or the operator if the plant is subjected to a roll-over situation.

Safety solutions:

  • implement and monitor traffic management plans at the worksite based on a risk assessment
  • provide and maintain designated walkways that are clearly marked for workers and other persons
  • provide exclusion zones that prohibit pedestrians being in the working vicinity of forklifts
  • consider the use of technology solutions such as presence sensing devices
  • make sure the reversing beeper, flashing light and warning devices are in working order and regularly checked
  • sound the horn when workers and other persons are in the vicinity of travel and/or work
  • ensure speed limits are implemented and monitored
  • operators must wear a seat belt at all times when operating the forklift
  • workers and pedestrians should wear high visibility clothing when working in and around forklifts
  • ensuring visibility is clear for those working on and around forklifts.