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Forklift Safety - Don't Neglect It

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A recent Workplace fatality at Laverton involving a load falling from a forklift - killing a 60 year old worker has again highlighted the importance of having strict safety systems around forklift operations.

WorkSafe investigators have begun an inquiry into the death of the man when computer equipment being removed from a truck fell and hit him.  

WorkSafe believes the man was guiding a forklift driver who was to remove the computer equipment weighing some 200kg and standing about 2m high, from the back of a semi-trailer. The equipment was on castors and not mounted on a pallet.

Forklifts are among the state's most dangerous machines accounting for 57 deaths since 1985. Like today's incident, 16 of those deaths involved loads falling from the forklift.

To reinforce material already released to industry about the dangers of working with forklifts, WorkSafe recently released posters warning of the dangers of working near the machines.

WorkSafe’s acting Executive Director, Stan Krpan, said that after 30 traumatic work related deaths last year, the highest since 2002, today's tragedy was a reminder of the urgent need for employers and workers to maximise safe work practices.

"January, along with March and November, are the most dangerous months with each recording 36 deaths over the past decade.

"With many businesses relatively quiet at this time of the year, now is the time to go through the potential safety issues and work out what can be done it eliminate them.

"Once that’s done, put a plan together and get to work putting it into effect.

“It’s in everyone’s interests to do this sooner rather than later. Don’t adopt a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude, wait until a WorkSafe inspector arrives or tragedy to strike.'

Thirty people died in traumatic work-related incidents last year up from 21 in 2008. A spate of deaths in October, November and December accounted for 12 of the 30 deaths. 

WorkSafe's publication 'Forklift safety: Reducing the risk' is available online along with other useful safety information.

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