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Worker injured operating a stand on pallet mover

In June 2023, a worker sustained serious head injuries when he was operating a stand on pallet mover. Initial investigations indicated the worker was operating the pallet mover in a large storage freezer travelling beneath a low-lying pallet racking system. It appears his head collided with the steel rack cross supports.

Safety issues

Stand on pallet mover operators are at risk of serious crush injuries caused by falling loads, the pallet mover itself, and coming into contact with pallet racking systems. It’s important to understand how to safety operate stand on pallet movers to prevent incidents.

Examples of risks when using pallet movers:

  • Collisions - both with people, other plant, and structures. Colliding with a structure can pose an immediate risk to the operator, but also create instability in the structure leading to further risk of people close by.
  • Sprains and strains - operating a stand on pallet mover can cause sprains, strains, and other soft tissue injuries to the neck, back, and arms (this can lead to long-term health problems).
  • Falling objects – incorrectly supported loads can tip and fall from the stand on pallet mover.

Ways to manage health and safety

Effective risk management starts with a commitment to health and safety from those who manage the business. If an incident occurs, you'll need to show the regulator that you’ve used an effective risk management process. This responsibility is covered by your primary duty of care in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Use the hierarchy of controls to help decide how to eliminate and reduce risks in your place of work.

The hierarchy of controls ranks types of control methods from the highest level of protection and reliability to the lowest. It’s a step-by-step approach to eliminating or reducing risks. You must work through the hierarchy of controls when managing risks, with the aim of eliminating the hazard, which is the most effective control.

Possible control measures to prevent similar incidents

Business owners must ensure the provision and maintenance of safe plant. Higher order risk controls include designing plant to eliminate risks to health and safety. It is important to operate a stand on pallet mover safely and create a safe work environment to minimise the risk of incidents. Simple measures that can make a big difference include:

  • Considering whether the plant is the most suitable for the task and the work environment.
  • Ensure the travel paths of mobile plant, including stand on pallet movers are kept clear and free from obstructions, including low overhanging structures.
  • Ensuring a well-designed traffic management plan is in place and re-assessed on a regular basis, including when there are changes to the work tasks, travel paths, and access/storage requirements.
  • Training operators in the safe operation of mobile plant, the traffic management plan, and any area-specific requirements.
  • Considering speed limiting areas/zones for mobile plant (consult with the manufacturer if considering any speed limiting devices that may be able to be fitted/adjusted for the specific plant).

The risk of stand on pallet mover injuries can also be reduced by making sure employees are well trained and the plant is well maintained.

Be well prepared and properly trained

  • Only operate a stand on pallet mover if you are competent.
  • Don’t operate a stand on pallet mover when you’re tired.
  • Do what is reasonably practicable to be safe, such as wearing a seatbelt if one is provided.
  • Use the stand on pallet mover only for the purpose for which it is designed.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s specifications.

Operate safely:

  • Don’t use a stand on pallet mover to raise a person.
  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles.
  • Observe speed limits and make sure you can stop safely at any time.
  • Don’t speed up or slow down quickly.
  • Slow down and exercise caution and care around hazards including other mobile plant, fixed plant (racking), and pedestrians.

Be aware of your work environment

  • Drive carefully on wet or slippery surfaces, and when pedestrians are nearby.
  • Use a non-motorised stand on pallet mover when working near lower style racking systems.
  • Never park or leave the stand on pallet mover in a doorway, entrance, or emergency exit, or in front of fire-extinguishing equipment.
  • Check for overhead obstructions such as lower style racking systems. If low obstructions cannot be avoided (residual risks of a worker striking their head), consideration should be given to PPE, padding on the obstruction or bright visual indicators (e.g., coloured tape).

Traffic Management

Whenever mobile plant such as a stand on pallet mover is used in a workplace, a traffic management plan must be implemented to ensure the safety of drivers and pedestrians.

A traffic management plan is a set of rules for managing the movement of traffic in the workplace. It should be developed by the those in charge of the business in consultation with workers and relevant people. Everyone affected by the plan must understand it and follow it.

The plan should consider:

  • The physical environment, such as lighting, road/floor surfaces, ventilation, and racking systems (if used).
  • Traffic destination, flow, volume, and priorities.
  • Using physical barriers such as safety barriers, containment fences, bollards, or railed walkways where possible.
  • Blind spots caused by stationary equipment and vehicles.
  • Signs to indicate who must give way.
  • Implementing and enforcing procedures that describe how pedestrians and forklifts must interact in different situations.

The traffic management plan should also ensure:

  • Any no-go zones for stand on pallet movers 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.

More information on traffic management plans and forklift safety can be found in the links below.

More information

Have you been affected by a workplace fatality, illness or serious injury?

For advice and support: