News story

Forklift incident results in $60,000 fine

Thursday, 15 July 2010 ( #470 ) - Clayton, Victoria, Australia
Swire Cold Storage was fined $60,000 following an incident in which a worker was hit by a forklift.
Swire Cold Storage was fined $60,000 following an incident in which a worker was hit by a forklift.
National cold storage giant Swire Cold Storage has been convicted and fined A$60,000 on two charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 following an incident in which a worker was hit by a forklift.

The incident occurred in March 2008 at the company's Clayton warehouse when a forklift was driven into the path of a worker operating a pallet mover.

The worker was struck in the left leg by the slip sheet attachment on the forklift, suffering breaks to both bones in his lower left leg above the ankle, and an open wound.

"The inspector who attended the scene noticed straight away that although there were marked walkways for pedestrians, they weren't being used," says WorkSafe's manufacturing and logistics director, Ross Pilkington.

"Forklifts and other mobile plant were actually being driven through the walkways - putting workers and others at risk of serious injury, or even death."

On average, three people are seriously injured by forklifts every week in Victorian workplaces. These injuries are primarily due to being hit by a forklift, or being hit by loads falling from a forklift.

"Despite years of communicating the message that people and forklifts don't mix, workplace behaviour does not reflect the fact that these machines will seriously hurt or kill if they hit someone - regardless of the speed at which they travel."

Pilkington urges workplaces to go beyond drawing lines on the ground, and physically separate people from forklift operations.

"This needs to be achieved either by scheduling forklift operations at distinct times so that no people are in the vicinity at the same time, or by installing physical barriers or providing exclusion zones in areas where forklifts operate.

"People don't seem to realise that if you're working in close proximity to a forklift, you are at serious risk. Just as you wouldn't work on the road in the middle of a freeway without having some very distinct physical separation in place, so too should you not work with forklifts unless there is a significant physical separation."
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