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Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series focusing on forklift safety tips developed by an Australian workplace safety committee. The second article in this series will be published later this week.
Operating a forklift where pedestrians and other vehicles are being used can be dangerous. Unfortunately, it’s all in a day’s work for most forklift operators.
Here are some Traffic Management safety tips for forklift operators provided by the Transport and Storage Industry Sector Standing Committee for Workplace Health and Safety, in Queensland, Australia.
All traffic routes, maneuvering areas and work yards should be:
• Safe for both vehicles and pedestrians at the workplace
• Wide enough for the largest vehicle using them
• One-way if possible, with adequate passing space around stationary vehicles
• Clearly signposted to indicate restricted parking, headroom, speed limits, vehicle
movement and other route hazards
• Surfaced with bitumen, concrete or other suitable material, and well drained
• Free from steep gradients as far as possible (gradients that cannot be avoided should be clearly signposted, and plant should only operate on gradients if specifically designed to do so – use manufacturer’s instructions as a guide)
• Designed and controlled to ensure safe vehicle movement
• Well maintained
• Free from obstructions, grease or slippery substances
• Free from damage to surfaces
• Immediately cleaned or cleared following substance spills or falls from vehicles
• Adequately lit, particularly junctions, buildings, plant, walkways and vehicles routes, and
• Designed to avoid extreme light variation (e.g. drivers moving from bright sunlight into
dull light or vice versa).
Vehicle operators exposed to hazardous sun glare should be provided with suitable protection (e.g. broad-brimmed hats, UV-rated eyewear, sunscreen, long-sleeved shirts and long pants).
Importance of Signage
Clear road markings and signage should alert vehicle operators to:
• Speed limits
• Sharp bends
• Pedestrian crossings
• Vehicle crossings
• Blind corners
• Steep gradients, and
Need for a Traffic Management Plan
A traffic management plan is essential to address many of the risks associated with the use of forklifts in the workplace. To reduce the risks of forklift-related incidents, traffic
management plans should effectively separate powered mobile plant, such as forklifts, from pedestrians, including truck drivers. Safety of pedestrians is one of the most important aspects of a workplace traffic management plan.
The preferred way to develop a traffic management plan is to:
• Identify any hazards
• Assess the risks that may be caused by people coming into contact with a hazard, and
• Put in place risk control measures to eliminate or minimize risks.
Getting Others Involved with Safety
Consultation is central to developing a traffic management plan supported by all workplace parties. Workplace health and safety representatives (WHSRs), forklift operators, other workers and employers should all play a part. This will result in:
• More informed decisions
• A boost in job satisfaction and morale
• Improved commitment to workplace health and safety, and
• Fewer workplace injuries.
Creating Workplace Controls
When identifying risk control measures consider the source of the risk and develop practical, workable controls. Controls may include:
• Developing efficient routes
• Monitoring traffic flows
• Reducing frequency of interaction with hazards
• Substituting a forklift with other suitable load shifting equipment, and
• Eliminating the risk altogether, where possible