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Two recent incidents in New South Wales involving forklifts have served as grim reminders to the industry of how vital it is to ensure operators receive the most intensive job safety training available. This is vital for the safety of the drivers, their coworkers, and others who may be present in the work area. While saving lives and avoiding injuries is the most important concern, the effects on the companies can also be devastating from both humane and financial standpoints.

The first incident appeared in a story on ABC online 

in June of 2014, and it appears that due to some breakdown in forklift safety procedures, a 51-year-old employee was crushed between two engines weighing over one ton apiece. A forklift was being used to lower one of the engines from an overhead bay, and it had gone as low as one metre above the ground. The suspended engine somehow tipped, crushing him between it and the second engine, which was on the ground nearby. Could this have been avoided through better attention to and use of safety procedures?

The second devastating accident occurred in Moolap, Geelong. The owner of an automotive workshop was operating a forklift inside the building, and struck his own nine-month-old son, who was crawling on the floor in the workshop. Compounding the tragedy is the fact that the family, which consisted of the husband, his wife, and their four children, were living in the workshop due to financial difficulties. The baby’s high chair was sitting in close proximity to the parked forklift when emergency personnel arrived after the accident. You can read the report here.

According to, there were 56 reported fatalities involving forklifts between January of 1985 and January of 2006. Many of the accidents involved pedestrians who were hit by forklifts, operators who were crushed in rollovers, or personnel who were hit by falling loads. A number of the operators who died fell from the forklifts and a small number were overcome by exhaust fumes. While some of these incidents may have been unavoidable, a large number would have been averted through being alert to safety issues and following safety regulations.

While the warehousing industry in general has become more conscious of the issue of safety in the workplace, there are still too many tragedies resulting from lapses in attention and failure to follow safety regulations.

Most safety protocols are simple and take just a bit of common sense to implement, but sometimes people get too busy, too overloaded, and too distracted. This is when tragic and avoidable accidents happen.

These horrible occurrences are vivid reminders of why it is so vital to be vigilant and pay careful attention to safety in the workplace.

Every detail about the equipment, the surroundings, and the people in the work area should be checked and maintained before the machinery is started. Know where everyone is and use every available safety measure to avoid accidents.

Such incidents have far-reaching effects on everyone involved. The loss of a family member, friend, or employee causes devastation that can’t be measured, but high fines and legal fees added to that loss can destroy a company. Companies have been fined tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars for safety violations — some requiring on-the-spot payment when the violation is discovered.

To avoid devastating and irreversible accidents, employers and workers must be thoroughly educated and trained about keeping themselves and their fellow workers safe on the job. A well-presented, comprehensive training course is invaluable in ensuring these occurrences are kept to a minimum and ultimately eliminated. To make sure workers are receiving the highest quality training possible, don’t hesitate to thoroughly vet the program, check references, and ask the training facility staff for documentation of their credentials before hiring them.