With over 700 forklift-related injuries per year in Queensland, WorkCover is demonstrating its commitment to safety with the Harmful Equipment (Forklifts) Injury Risk Reduction Initiative.
This initiative is a pilot aiming to support employers and workers firstly in the North Queensland region who have experienced or are likely to experience injuries due to forklift use.
North Queensland family-owned business Red Valley Farms, who produce bananas, has joined the program after its successful work with around a dozen North Queensland enterprises.
An occupational health and safety (OH&S) consultant has worked onsite at Red Valley Farms to conduct a safety review based on their existing forklift equipment and practices.
WorkCover Head of Partnerships Sharon Stratford said after the safety review, the project trials researched risk mitigation strategies including technological assistance for small to medium-sized businesses with an aim to improve safety.
“If it is successful, this pilot program will hopefully be used for a wider roll out across the state,” Ms Stratford said.
The current phase of the trials consists of re-evaluating the interventions used onsite to work more efficiently.
In the next phase, the OH&S consultant will work with two farms, the banana farm and a cotton farm, to understand the forklift safety challenges experienced in rural operations, and then transfer learnings from the previous phase trials to support the rural sector with injury risk reduction strategies.
The OH&S consultant Emma Whyhoon said previous data she collected will be used in the 2023 pilot currently running in the two farms.
Ms Stratford said there are many potential positive outcomes that might arise from the pilot program.
“This is a real opportunity to reduce the risk of workplace injuries and improve safety culture. We look forward to seeing the results of this program and sharing them more broadly.”