skip to content

Forklift Safety

Carolyn Kennedy (Project Manager, WorkSafe) tells us why forklifts and people don't mix.

Even though fatalities involving forklifts have reduced significantly over the past decade, incidents involving forklifts and pedestrians continue at an unacceptably high rate – 143 between January 2010 and February 2011. Around 80 per cent of these occurred in warehousing environments.

What employers must do

1. Ask 'are forklifts really necessary for the work to be done?' Could a less hazardous alternative item of plant be used (eg hand or powered pallet truck, electric tug, tow tractor)?

2. Develop a traffic management plan for the workplace that includes:

  • consultation with all workers
  • policies and procedures
  • information/instruction/training
  • supervision
  • expectations for compliance (including disciplinary procedures)
  • monitoring and review of the plan.

3. Identify areas where forklifts and pedestrians could interact. A useful approach is to use a map of the workplace to identify these areas in consultation with health and safety representatives and workers, and mark areas from high to low potential for interaction.

4. The 'three metre rule' is outdated. Employers need to assess forklift operations to determine the actual separation distances and types of barriers that will be needed, considering:

  • type of load being carried
  • forklift operating speeds
  • working environment
  • any physical barriers or electronic systems in place.

5. Based on the assessment of forklift operations, controls must be put in place that physically separate pedestrians from areas of forklift operation at all times so far as is reasonably practicable. This can be achieved by:

  • permanent barriers (eg gates, fences, guardrails)
  • temporary barriers (eg removable bollards, fencing)
  • work scheduling to prevent pedestrians being in the area of operating forklifts
  • exclusion zones and safety zones
  • electronic systems to prevent pedestrian and forklift interaction (eg proximity sensors, speed limiters, zoned detection systems).

Painted lines on the ground are not an effective way to separate pedestrians from operating forklifts.

Related link

< Latest Site & OHS News

Workplace Incident - Drill bit lodged in man's eye! »

« Incident Alert - Fatality


Prompt Service

Hi Kelly and Alison,

Thank you so much for working on the WHS Manual last night for Peter Small Plumbing.

I can't tell you how much I appreciated your prompt service - I am sure this is above and beyond your service standard.

Please pass on to your management how thrilled I am with the service I received.

Sometimes you get a bit skeptical when you just google a product with no prior knowledge of a company - but I was desperate and I thought 'Oh well if I get ripped off - I'll just wear it' But from the very first email I received from Alison I could tell this was a professional business.

Thank you so much for helping me with this 'complex' issue of WHS. Thank you also for the helpful notes on 'Implementing a Safety System' (Very helpful for the novice !!

Satisfied Clients

Electrical & Solar
Remote Area Electrical Services

Electrical and Air-Conditioning Services
for Charters Towers and surrounding areas
Domestic, Commercial and Industrial

Remote Area Electrical Services

more clients