Workplace safety is a major concern. Everyone, including employers, workers and regulators, such as Occupational Health and Safety and WorkCover, need to be involved in the effort to regulate our working environments.
Failure to keep your workplace safe for you and your employees can cost you. From lofty on-the-spot fines to accidents, death and lawsuits – a poor safety record in the logistics and transport industry has seen many a business’ reputation go down the gurgler.
The warehouse, logistics and transport industry has to pay particular attention to its forklift drivers and machinery operators.
A quick Google search brought up several forklift incidents costing businesses thousands of dollars in fines. One company was fined $160,000 for failure to make sure safety rules were followed. The incident led to the loss of a 73-year-old worker’s lower leg after a forklift hit him. Another employee injury resulted in a $73,000 fine.
And it’s not just the employers. Workers may even be fined: an unlicensed forklift driver was fined $3,000 for running over a co-worker.
The final responsibility for keeping a work area safe falls to the employer. A document entitled “Forklift Safety – Reducing the Risks”, published by WorkCover, describes the following employer obligations in regard to workplace safety for employees and others who could be in the work area when forklifts are in operation:
- Provide a safe work environment free of barriers and hazards.
- Create safe systems procedures for carrying out necessary tasks.
- Ensure equipment is well maintained and safe.
- Provide information and training in regard to operating a forklift or other equipment.
- Have staff available to supervise work activity and make sure everyone is working with safety in mind.
The WorkCover publication also tells us about the Four Safe Steps to Hazard Management. The steps use the letters in the word SAFE to help people remember how to avoid work issues like accidents and fines.
Employers should be using this outline when setting up their traffic management plan.
- Spot the Hazard: An employer or manager should take regular walks around the work area to check things out, locate any large equipment that may be around, learn (and maybe even meet) the employees, inspect the work area, watch the movements of any equipment and personnel, and be aware of the surroundings. The purpose of this is to pinpoint where hazards may be so something can be done about them. This is also a good opportunity for the employer to talk to his workers, learn what they are doing, learn which areas are more likely to be places where accidents are likely to happen, and teach employees about safety.
- Access Risk: Once you know where the hazardous areas may be, consider how likely it is that an accident could take place, and determine what effects it will have, and how bad the effects will be.
- Fix the Problem: Eliminate or reduce the risk by cleaning up the area, removing all equipment, materials, or trash that may not belong. Removing the hazard removes the change of injury or death due to carelessness or negligence.
- Evaluate Results: So, you’ve cleaned your work area, educated your employees, checked and cleaned out the work site to increase its safety, and eliminated hazards and barriers.
No situation or workplace is perfect – or perfectly safe.
But it’s possible to avoid tragic accidents and for everyone to be safety conscious when they’re on the floor. By enforcing vigilance across safety and risk monitoring and by ensuring your drivers and operators are well trained, you’ll avoid fines, injury and devastating onsite tragedies.
Get proactive about workplace safety. Give us a call if you want to find out more about ACE Forklift Training’s operational licences or first aid courses – 02 9773 4490