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                        2 min read

                        Man charged after alleged unsecured forklift load kills worker

                        Close up of a yellow forklift in a warehouse environment

                        A man has been charged following the death of a worker which allegedly occurred as a result of a forklift incident.

                        The 52-year-old maintenance fitter was reportedly operating a forklift at a Corio warehouse back in October 2021, when the forklift’s unsecured load tipped. It’s understood the load crushed another nearby worker, causing fatal injuries.

                        The forklift operator has now been charged with breaching section 32 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for recklessly engaging in conduct that placed another person in danger of serious injury, and section 25(1)(b) for failing to take reasonable care as an employee for the health and safety of others in the workplace.

                        The matter is now before the courts.

                         

                        The importance of securing loads

                        Securing loads on machinery such as forklifts is an often overlooked component of machinery safety. When we think of hazards, we often think of damage to a machine or mechanisms that are highly likely to cause injury when contact is made. However, a load that is not properly secured can also pose a serious injury risk to your people.

                        Extra care is required when transporting loads. Whilst it is uncommon to secure a load directly to a forklift, it is important to ensure the load is securely contained without the risk of becoming unsecured during transit. If using pallets, ensure the load is strapped or wrapped securely and the pallet is free from damage. If using other specific load moving attachments, ensure both the attachment and the load are secure prior to use. A traffic management plan (TMP) should also be in place for the site that the forklift is operating. The purpose of the TMP is to separate other forklifts and mobile plant from people within the work area and avoid incidents involving pedestrians and collisions with other mobile plant. 

                        Additionally, it’s important to ensure forklifts are only operated by a qualified or experienced person, who understands how to properly secure a load. Also ensure all forklifts are accompanied by safe operating procedures (SOPs) or a safe work method statement (SWMS) that detail how to safely load a forklift. Operators should familiarise themselves with these procedures and processes to reduce the safety risks to themselves, and others who may be in the vicinity of the forklift. The SOP or SWMS should detail the following:

                        • The forklift’s rated capacity. This number states how much weight the forklift can carry. Operators should be aware of the rated capacity of the forklift and the weight of the load they are about to move. Exceeding this weight limit is hazardous, and could result in the forklift tipping, or falling.

                        • Use the most appropriate attachments for the job. If a forklift attachment, such as fork tynes, lifting jibs, fork extensions and bale clamps, will make it safer to transport a particular load, it should be used. Ensure the attachment is appropriate for the forklift it is to be used with, and check the final rated capacity of the forklift in combination with the attachment.

                        • Ensure the load is stable and centred. An unbalanced load on a forklift will be more likely to tip and fall.

                        • Ensure the forklift has a compliant load backrest and overhead guard (OHG).

                        • Ensure the load is tilted backwards, and carry loads as low as possible

                        • When using a forklift, spread the forks as wide as possible, and position the load back as far as possible. This will help to distribute the weight of the load evenly and boost stability.

                        Further information on the safe use of forklifts can be found in AS2359.2 Powered industrial trucks - Operations.

                         

                        Want to know more about forklift load safety?

                        Plant Assessor can help you out! Our machinery safety and compliance experts can assist you in understanding your legal and safety requirements as a forklift owner or operator. Call 1300 728 852 or email us at info@assessor.com.au for more information today.

                         

                         

                        Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information.

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