WorkCover issues timely reminder on forklift safety

Date: Mar 22, 2012

The state body responsible for employee safety has issued a timely reminder on the importance of developing and maintaining proper protocols when dealing with heavy loads on forklifts.

According to WorkCover NSW’s general manager of work health and safety division, John Watson, over 900 employees were injured in 2010 in accidents that involved these machines.

Mr Watson explained that the incidents investigated by the workplace watchdog over the last few years had mainly been preventable if the proper level of attention had been paid while the forklifts were in use.

Not only is the pain and suffering quite needless, but the downtime induced due to injury and recovery periods can cripple a business.

The general manager asserted: “On Sunday 11 March a 42-year-old male worker was killed at an engineering plant at Muswellbrook in the NSW Upper Hunter when a load being carried on a forklift is reported to have fallen onto them.

“While the incident on Sunday is tragic and the number of injured workers a concern, what’s also alarming is that more than 4,000 hours were lost at a cost of more than $10 million to the NSW economy.”

Mr Watson expressed that the aim of the renewed call for forklift safety was due to a desire to see all workers in NSW be able to “return home safely to their families at the end of the working day” and urged managers and employees to not wait until an accident forced their hand.

While personal injury lawyers can help individuals who are hurt at the workplace to claim for compensation to assist with their recovery, businesses could be left in a bad position in terms of staffing costs and reduced production capacity.

“It’s clear that the cost of a workplace injury is far greater than the cost of implementing an effective work health and safety system and that’s why we’re urging businesses to review their load handling and transportation safe work method statements to ensure they have systems in place for the safety of forklift operators and pedestrians,” said Mr Watson.

In its reminder, WorkCover provided a number of pointers to help staff members and managers review the surrounding conditions before they begin to work with a forklift.

Factors such as weight, storage and equipment should be thoroughly assessed so that the right gear can be deployed to ensure that the load being lifted is both stable and secure.

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