The transportation and warehouse storage industries have the
highest rates of injuries and accidents throughout Australia. Equipment operation injuries, like forklift accidents, are second only to incidents involving pedestrian injuries in the workplace.
Incorrectly constructed or haphazardly improvised platforms used to move loads account for up to 12% of industry-specific fatalities in Australia each year.
What makes forklift operations potentially dangerous?
Loads that are incorrectly loaded, balanced, and carried on forklift tynes can unexpectedly shift, creating an extremely dangerous work environment for the forklift operator and for nearby employees. Forklift accidents can result in injuries to employees in the vicinity of the forklift operation. Forklift rollovers can endanger the forklift operator’s physical safety, and can result in substantial damages to warehouse equipment.
Avoidable incidents, such as the examples here, go beyond threatening the health and safety of employees. Forklift accidents related to unsafe forklift operations can result in lost productivity and loss of customers due to the unworkable periods whilst repairs and post-incident safety inspections are conducted, before normal operations can be resumed.
Workplace safety is a legal responsibility
Failure to take proper steps to create a safe workplace environment for employees can create costly legal issues (known as “legal liability”) for employers and companies. If a workplace forklift accident, injury, or fatality occurs as a result of a company’s failure to provide, install, or implement proper forklift attachments or forklift safety equipment, the ensuing consequences to the company can be disastrous.
Forklift accidents may also result in expensive fines being levied against the company for workplace safety violations; a leading Australian paper manufacturer was recently fined $400,000 following a forklift driver’s death, and a Tasmanian agricultural property accident, in which an 18 year old forklift operator was killed, is currently being investigated.
How Risk Assessments can reduce forklift accidents
It is critical that a Risk Assessment be performed in the workplace. This goes beyond identifying basic hazards. A Risk Assessment looks at every hazardous scenario that may occur in the workplace, including potential forklift accidents and incidents. It explores dangerous situations employees might be exposed to while they perform their jobs.
The use of a Risk Assessment helps to define (within reason) the risk of a particular incident occurring in the workplace. Once these risks are determined, the next step is to perform a hazard assessment. A Hazard Assessment takes a deeper look at different equipment, specific scenarios, operations, etc. that should be considered as hazardous to employees. It also explains the level of danger for a given situation.
Additional ways to help increase workplace safety
There are a number of safety programs a company can establish in an effort to help increase workplace safety for their employees:
- Implement a program of mandatory monthly employee safety briefings
- Offer employee incentives for achieving/demonstrating a predetermined level of workplace safety awareness (for example 30 accident-free days in the workplace).
- Offer refresher training or equipment re-certification programs for hazardous equipment operators
- Establish, and implement warehouse traffic management patterns to assist employees working on the warehouse floor
- Train warehouse employees to recognise and assist with the elimination of potential hazards in the warehouse
- Purchase warehouse equipment and machinery from reputable manufacturers that have an established record of maintaining workplace safety standards
The Australian Department of Justice and Attorney General’s office have collaborated to create useful forklift safety guidelines. These guidelines are aimed at educating both employees and employers alike, as to the potential hazards in the warehouse workplace. View a pdf of the forklift safety guidelines.
Always use quality forklift attachments
Companies should have procedures in place to identify the operational limits of equipment used in the warehouse. One way to go about this is to only use trusted equipment suppliers and manufacturers. One such trusted Australian warehouse equipment manufacturer is Bremco. Bremco has earned an exemplary reputation for producing material handling equipment for Australian businesses.
All Bremco forklift attachments are manufactured to meet Australian safety standards. Located in Brisbane Queensland, Bremco representatives can assist companies with reducing operating expenses, and raising warehouse productivity rates.
View the full range of Bremco forklift attachments.
Employee safety is a cost effective investment
Most workplace accidents and injuries can be avoided by following safety protocols, requiring the establishment of safety training programs and safe operation of forklifts. By purchasing equipment from companies that demonstrate the ability to produce manufacturing equipment that adheres to, or exceeds, basic safety standards.
Requiring employees to be trained and certified to operate warehouse manufacturing equipment is a wise investment in the present and future safety of all employees.
Workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility
Everyone has a duty to make workplace safety a top priority. A workplace must be alert to potential hazards. A ‘team approach’ to challenges that can pose a threat to workplace safety helps to create more awareness of this critical issue. The more people that are focused on the potential problems, the safer the workplace will become.