Getting a Grip on Safety

Hi!  Welcome to the first instalment of “Getting a Grip on Safety”.

As a working mother of 3 who manages a home and an international manufacturing company, I know that ones’ work life is full of challenges. Getting a grip on these is the key to success and frankly – peace of mind. I have been encouraged by friends and colleagues to write this blog in order to share my insights and ideas on overcoming these challenges from the perspective of a woman who works in the manufacturing industry.

I will be focusing on getting a grip on safety in the workplace, something that forms the foundation of everything I do.

Like most of you, I go to work every weekday and I also send my husband and eldest daughter off to work in the manufacturing industry.  When I watch them drive away each morning, I always wonder if they will return safely at the end of the day.

In Melbourne Australia, where we live and work, we have electric trams that form part of our public transport system. One of their current advertisements features a rhino on a skateboard. It’s used to highlight the dangers of not looking out for trams when crossing the road.

This vision of a rhino on a skateboard came to mind the other day when I was watching two of the forklifts in our factory driving around with heavily laden pallets. Their speed, size and the narrow confines they were manoeuvring in reminded me of this ad and the potential dangers associated with forklifts in the workplace. So I did some research and found out just how dangerous forklifts can be.

Here are some Australian statistics:

28.6% of forklift fatalities are a result of loads falling on pedestrians.

25% of forklift fatalities are a result of pedestrians being struck or crushed by a moving forklift.

The remaining 46.4% of forklift fatalities in Australia relate to the operators being crushed by or falling from a forklift.

Not a pretty set of numbers, but issues that can be avoided in any workplace with some simple changes to workplace practices, people’s behaviours and a little more focus on safety.

Here are my top ten suggestions to ensure that your facility is as safe as it can be with regard to forklifts: *

  1. Establish appropriately sized pedestrian exclusion zones. Note: the speed and type of load carried will determine the size of the exclusion zone.

  2. Ensure that pedestrians and forklifts are completely separated in the layout of your facility.

  3. Ensure forklift seatbelts are fitted and correctly worn.

  4. Install intelligent systems to prevent forklifts being started unless a seatbelt is fastened.

  5. Always purchase forklifts with speed limiting devices.

  6. Remove all types of bonuses and other incentives that may encourage forklift operators to drive too quickly.

  7. Reduce and enforce the speed limit around the workplace.

  8. Always use forklifts with a greater capacity for a given load.

  9. Use a dual wheeled forklift when lifting loads above 4.5 metres.

  10. Buy forklifts with a higher capacity than you actually need.

We have implemented these ten areas in our workplace and I know first hand that it makes a difference.

I hope they will help you, your employees and loved ones get a grip on safety.

Until next time, take care,

Louise

* Statistics and recommendations are derived from Workplace Victoria’s A handbook for workplaces Forklift safety reducing the risk.