Forklift incident costs NZ company over $34,000

New Zealand’s Department of Labour (DoL) has released a statement that illustrates a classic scenario for forklift safety.  According to the statement :

“The employee was walking in a freezer when he was hit from behind by a forklift carrying a 10-carton-high pallet of packed meat.  The Department’s investigation showed the height of the load impeded the driver’s view and contributed to the incident.

The employee’s hip and thigh were fractured. He was in hospital for three weeks and has only recently returned to full-time work.”

The incident occurred in April 2009 with the company being fined $NZ34,000. There are several control measures that could have applied in this circumstance.  DoL mentions

  • perhaps reducing the pallet size or,
  • have the forklift driven in reverse.

But by far the most effective would have been to restrict pedestrian access to the areas where forklifts operate.  In many workplaces, forklift areas are simply pedestrian no-go zones or there are secure separation barriers between pedestrian walkways and forklift traffic zones.

There a re many forklift safety codes and guidances available in most Western jurisdictions.  Below is a quick selection:

NZ – Front Loading Forklift Trucks

Canada – Common Factors in Forklift Accidents

England: Use forklift trucks safely

Australia: A Guidebook of Industrial Traffic Management & Forklift Safety

Australia: Forklifts

Kevin Jones

Categories forklift, forklift trucks, government, law, OHS, safety, training, transport, UncategorizedTags , ,

1 thought on “Forklift incident costs NZ company over $34,000”

  1. What amazes me in this and all other incidents involving forklifts is the complacency of the workplace, the employers and the employees in regard to the safety issues around forklifts.
    No doubt the injured worker and the driver of the forklift had done the exact same thing many times before and there had never been an incident.
    However this time the injured worker was \”in the wrong place\” and the driver of the forklift could not see his/her co-worker.

    Every safety aspect of this particular workplace was ignored and as a result there was a high risk injury and the employer was fined.

    My guess is that in mirror image workplaces all over the world the very same high risk situation is being played out even as I sit and write this. And when yet again there is another high risk injury or workplace fatal the employer will be fined and the lesson lost.

    I know the answer is that people and forklifts do not mix, I know that proceedures will now be put in place so as the recommendations are adherred to, I also know that the injured worker is very fortunate that he is still alive to return to work.

    I just wonder how many more times this incident will happen in other workplaces and how many more fines will be issued before the wider industry wake up.

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