As we head into a new year it is time to revisit a source of major risk in our workplaces, that of forklifts mixing with pedestrians, fixed plant, other vehicles and the workplace environment. Things can go terribly wrong without the proper controls in place. In this newsletter we will discuss some vital requirements surrounding the use of forklifts  (mobile plant) in the workplace.


The best way to reduce the risk of forklift-related injuries and incidents is to separate pedestrians and forklifts. Separating pedestrians and forklifts is the most important aim of a traffic management plan. A traffic management plan is a set of rules for managing the safest and most efficient movement of traffic in your workplace. It should contain practical, workable controls and covers all vehicles in your workplace, not just forklifts. It should also be specific to the workplace. Everyone affected by the plan must understand it and follow it.


The workplace environment can be a substantial contributing factor in workplace incidents involving forklifts.

In October 2018, a worker was killed when the forklift he was operating tipped over and pinned him. The experienced operator was moving a load into an industrial shed. The forklift’s mast collided with an overhead steel beam, causing the forklift to tip over onto its side pinning the operator. Contributing factors appear to include; the operator may not have been wearing a seat belt, and the wrong type of forklift may have been in use at the time. Investigations are continuing at this time.

Another incident of interest is this warehouse incident that occurred when a forklift and its load collided with storage racking. Could this happen in your workplace?

In both of these cases, having a traffic management plan safe operating procedures and training in place may well have reduced the likelihood of incidents like these happening.


Policies should cover the hazard management process, selecting a forklift, training and licences, incident reporting and investigation.

Safe work procedures (or operating procedures) should cover many of the safety requirements for forklift operations—for example, checking the forklifts and the workplace, using attachments, operating the forklift, carrying loads, and maintenance. Other issues you should consider include fatigue, manual handling, refuelling, and battery charging.

An important factor in developing policies and procedures around forklift operations is consultation with workers who in most cases are very aware of hazards forklift interactions can present. Safe work procedures ensure everyone who uses forklifts understands how to do so safely and correctly.


Develop and implement an incident reporting procedure. Incidents involving forklifts must be reported immediately to the manager or supervisor.

Reporting incidents allows you to:

  • find out what went wrong and why
  • improve work practices or the physical environment
  • prevent similar incidents happening again.
  • record and follow up near misses. Reporting near misses can give you the chance of preventing a severe accident, so treat them seriously!


Training and awareness are critical to ensuring all events are managed safely. This can be made easy with online resources:

IBASafe Program has plenty of resources to give you more information: Head to IBASAFE on the members only resources page.

The following Australian Standards apply:

  • AS 2359 Powered Industrial trucks
  • AS/NZS 1891 Industrial fall-arrest systems and devices
  • LUEZ Loading, Unloading Exclusion Zones

For more information or to get started with the IBASafe System, contact our program partners Victual

1300 732 255