Businesses which use forklifts are being warned to lift their game as the retail sector moves to stock stores in time for Christmas following a number of tragic incidents in recent months.

SafeWork NSW Executive Director Tony Williams said rushing to get goods out the door, poor safety systems and fatigue with workers on the job for more hours are all factors which can lead to tragedy.

“The lead up to the holiday season is the busiest time of the year in distribution centres, warehouses and loading docks and we have too many incidents under active investigation involving forklifts,” Mr Williams said.

“In one incident a 41-year old lost his life having been crushed when his forklift overturned, and in another incident a 27-year old female factory worker suffered massive internal injuries to her abdomen when a forklift crashed into equipment she was operating. In yet another case a 29-year old male required surgery to a foot after the forklift struck him.

“SafeWork inspectors visited more than 180 businesses in March this year and it was disappointing to see more than 90 Improvement Notices handed out for unsafe work practices,” Mr Williams said.

From July 2014 to July 2016, more than 1,300 workers were injured in forklift incidents costing the NSW workers compensation system more than $30 million. Tragically this also included three fatalities.

SafeWork recommends a number of simple steps employers and workers could take to make this Christmas season a safe one.

  • Employers must ensure that only licenced workers operate the forklift and that they are used only for their intended purpose.
  • Physical fences or barriers or clearly defined walkways should be in place to ensure a separation as the two don’t mix.
  • Forklift speeds should be kept as low as possible which can be achieved by fitting speed limiters or sensors which automatically adjust the forklift’s speed.
  • Workers should never be lifted on the forklift tynes or on pallets – they should only be lifted with a forklift truck in an approved Work Box.
  • And when parking a forklift, make sure the brakes are on, that it is turned off and key removed.

For further information on forklift safety, visit www.safework.nsw.gov.au

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