In May 2018, a worker was struck and run over by a forklift in the loading bay of an industrial workplace on the Gold Coast. Initial inquiries indicate he was standing in the loading bay when the forklift reversed away after returning product to an outside rack. The forklift hit him, seriously injuring his leg and shoulder. Inquiries are continuing.
Preventing a similar incident
Whenever a forklift is used in a workplace, a traffic management plan must be implemented to ensure the safety of forklift drivers and pedestrians. Wherever possible, physical barriers such as bollards or railed walkways should be installed to separate pedestrians and forklifts.
- the physical environment, such as lighting, road surfaces, ventilation and weather
- traffic destination, flow, volume and priorities
- forklift stopping distances, turning (tail swing) and operator blind spots
- forklift characteristics, such as stability and attachments
- load characteristics, such as height, width and type.
The traffic management plan should also ensure:
- it is clear to forklift operators and workers who has right of way
- any no-go zones for forklifts or pedestrians are clearly isolated and marked
- if high visibility vests are required, they are readily available to staff and visitors
- pedestrian floor markings are highly visible and not faded
- speed limits are clearly signed and followed
- traffic directions, such as 'stop' and 'one way', are clearly signed and followed.
Since 2012 there has been an average of 430 accepted workers' compensation claims for injuries involving forklifts each year. Forty per cent of these involve serious injuries with five or more days off work. The most common injury mechanism involving forklifts is sprains and strains from sitting, or getting in or out of the forklift. The next most common mechanism is being hit by a forklift or its load.
During the same period, we have been notified of 137 incidents involving workers or bystanders being struck by, run over or trapped by a forklift. Two of these involved a death and 88 involved a serious injury requiring hospitalisation.
Prosecutions and compliance
In December 2016, a company was fined $35,000 after a worker was crushed by a pallet being moved by a forklift. The worker was kneeling down to remove a product from another pallet when he was struck, resulting in broken ribs. The defendant was prosecuted for failing to monitor adequate traffic management procedures for moving plant and pedestrians.
In August 2013, a large truck manufacturing business was fined $35,000 after a forklift reversed into a worker resulting in multiple fractures to his lower left leg. The magistrate also imposed a recognisance of $50,000 for one year.
- Forklift safety for workers (PDF, 0.38 MB)
- Forklift safety for employers: maintenance (PDF, 0.35 MB)
- Forklift safety for employers: traffic management (PDF, 0.53 MB)
- Managing risks of plant in the workplace code of practice 2021 (PDF, 1.57 MB)
- How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.65 MB)
- Traffic management - information sheet
- Traffic management guide - general
- Traffic management guide - warehousing