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Can your company afford to foot the bill from a forklift accident?

Employees should be aware of increased fines and consequences as WorkCover continue to narrow in on forklift driver safety after a spate of incidents in 2014.

Let’s get one thing clear – forklift driving is high-risk work. The potential for serious harm is very real if correct procedures aren’t followed. From lifting and moving various materials from one point to another for fast services dispatchment, the potential for human error is very real.

So real – in fact – media channels are flooded with reports of workers being crushed, run over, or pinned-down by heavy loads or falling from lifts. While forklift technology has advanced dramatically, it’s this human factor still tying business owners to safety and training to ensure staff are abreast of best-practice guidelines.

So who’s sitting in the driver’s seat of your forklift?

While your staff have a responsibility toward ensuring the safety of others, duty of care is still placed firmly in the hands of employers. Protecting your business from injuries, fatalities, suspended licences, huge fines and potential jail-time starts by ensuring valid and up-to-date licenses.

Between an ethical responsibility to employer safety, the desire to keep your insurance premiums in check and the financial devastation non-compliance fines can place on your business, every owner should be working towards becoming a better corporate citizen. This is easily achieved when you encourage routine training and refresher courses – placing workplace safety at the very top of your list of priorities.

When having a licence doesn’t necessarily make you a competent driver.

The licensed forklift driver who walks into their first forklift gig will have sat down to a two to three-day Forklift Training Course to take part in High-Risk Work. If they did their homework and passed the test – they’ll have landed an LF Class High-Risk Forklift Licence that grants them a licence to operate. And so in about a week total the whole process is over.

Yet many drivers behind the wheel of your machinery sat their licence as a twenty-something—eager to enter the workforce with a week spare to get the piece of paper. Thirty years on from their first licence, driver’s are still on the floor inside a warehouse that’s bigger and more complex than it once was.

Realising this, WorkCover NSW are starting to clamp down on the state of High-Risk Work Licences – being more interested in preventing forklift accidents rather than persecuting companies after the fact. New WorkCover legislation requires all HRW licence holders ensure their skills are up-to-date by attending refresher training courses after long periods of not operating a forklift regularly.

These days, companies should be proactive in asking whether or not your employee is still – on paper – the competent driver they once were. If tried, would their skills and OHS knowledge still pass the test?

In WorkCover’s view, all forklift accidents can and should be prevented. Best practice today – according to WorkCover – recommends workplaces review and refresh their staff forklift licences every twelve months. They’re urging businesses not to wait until an injury or death at your workplace before developing safe work systems.

What kind of costs are we talking?

Beyond the tragic and oftentime avoidable cost of an employee’s life, the cost of your average forklift-related incident is anywhere between tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars to a one- to two-year jail term as a minimum for unlawful practices.

With WorkCover finding that most forklift-related incidents are avoidable, businesses just like yours are being found without the following preventative measures in place:

Best practice is more than just a licence.

The majority of accidents and injuries caused by the unsafe use of forklifts in Australia of late have been found at the hands of the employer. Common reports attest to employers who did not ensure safe work environments or adequate training for the health and safety of their staff.

With a review like this, the cost of workplace forklift-related accidents – both human and financial – falls on the employer. Rather than relying on a licence obtained  10, 20 or 30 years ago as your “stamp of approval” when it comes to reducing High-Risk Work incidents – embrace your inner corporate citizen and make your staff accountable to their practice.

This means taking every precautionary measure to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place – implementing a standard of ongoing training and development of your staff beyond their Forklift Licence certificate.

Routine Refresher Training.

There’s never been any strict regulatory implications for not refreshing your forklift licence after long periods of not operating a forklift regularly. And your business still has a choice to avoid heeding the warning signs and carry on with business-as-usual. But don’t say we didn’t tell you so. As forklift incident’s rise due to poor training, support, and safety standards, your business will be increasingly scrutinised for its practices if an accident occurs.

To avoid the headache of intrusive investigations – and to keep your money in the pockets of your commercial activities – it pays to think ahead when budgeting money to training and development.

Over a mere three to four-hours – either at our Sydney site, or on-site within your workplace – Ace Forklift Assessing can help your staff to re-obtain their forklift licence. From the latest legislation and regulation, to best-practice working around the warehouse – we will work with your staff to guarantee their health – and the health of your business – is covered.

To speak to one of our friendly consultants to get your workplace in line, contact the team at ACE Forklift Training today.