Developing a traffic management plan

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What is the problem?
Workplaces using forklifts without an adequate traffic management plan in place to ensure pedestrians and other powered mobile plant are separated from forklifts.

What are the risks?

Forklifts cause more workplace deaths and injuries than any other piece of equipment. More than half the people killed in forklift-related incidents in the last 10 years have been pedestrians. Even when forklifts are travelling at low speeds they can crush pedestrians.

What is a solution to the problem?

Firstly, identify the hazards and risks related to forklift use at your workplace and assess and control the risks of people and other powered mobile equipment coming into contact with those hazards. Hazards and risks must be controlled by eliminating the risks, so far as is reasonably practicable. Where it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, the risk must be controlled by reducing the risk so far as is reasonably practicable

The types of risk controls to consider include (but are not limited to):

  •  substituting a forklift with other suitable load shifting equipment

  •  identifying the most efficient route of travel

  •  traffic flows

  •  reducing the frequency of interaction with powered mobile plant

  •  licence and operator training

A traffic management plan may include a range of risk control measures, such as:

  •  pedestrian and forklift exclusion zones

  •  safety zones for truck drivers

  •  safety barriers

  •  floor markings

  •  containment fences

  •  speed limiting devices and signs

Involve health and safety representatives, forklift operators and other employees when putting the traffic management plan together. The risk controls should be reviewed regularly. All people at the workplace, including contractors and visitors, must be advised about the workplace’s traffic management plan (e.g. during workplace induction).

Information for this article was sourced from For further forklift safety information contact MLA Holdings on 131 652 or

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Safety Attitudes

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 sb julyjuly   

In organisational psychology, the belief-attitude-value system determines the likelihood that people will accept a message (e.g. workplace safety) and act accordingly based on three psychological dimensions:

1.       People's beliefs (the cognitive dimension): what a person knows to be true, our convictions.

2.       People’s attitudes (the affective dimension): how they feel, a particular perspective or position on something.

3.       People’s actions (the behavioural dimension): the probability that people will act in accordance with their attitudes and beliefs.

So why are safety attitudes important and how do we learn about them in our workplaces?

Attitudes evaluate and express an opinion on an issue like workplace safety, whether positively or negatively, and are based on actual experiences. Therefore attitudes can be expected to change as a function of experiences and it is here that developing a workplace safety culture can have an impact. In communicating and providing experiences of positive workplace safety behaviour, we can have an impact on the people’s attitudes towards safety.

When poor attitudes to safety need to change into positive attitudes towards safety, the motivation behind the attitude also needs to change. (Note: this is not the only way to change attitudes, but it is an important one.) If you seek to change the motivations which maintain a person's beliefs about safety (e.g. the motivator: 'the boss doesn’t listen to my complaints about safety problems and people can get hurt' and the belief: 'the company puts production before our safety') and if you can show the difference between attitudes, or between attitudes and behaviour, you have the opportunity to change the motivations which keep people stuck in their poor safety attitudes.     
Attitude change
Attitude change may take place when compliance (with peer expectations), identification (a desire to be like someone we admire) or internalisation (change in belief when intrinsic rewards exist) occur.

Renowned psychologist Carl Jung defines attitude as a ‘readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way’ (Jung, 1921). Attitudes very often come in pairs, one conscious and the other unconscious. Within this broad definition Jung defines several attitudes.

Applying this to workplace safety, we try to move our conscious behaviours and experiences of workplace safety into our unconscious, making workplace safety an intrinsic mindset and attitude. Similarly there may be unconscious and unsafe behaviours which need to be brought to the consciousness in order for them to be addressed.

Practical implementation
Surveying the workforce to determine attitudes to workplace health and safety is a useful step in the workplace safety culture change process, as this can help direct resources. The aim is for safety to become a subconscious behaviour, just like the way we switch on a light when we enter a room, it needs to become behavioural.

Understanding peoples’ attitudes to safety is an important start. Then, change can occur by focusing on the positive and reinforcing it. Positive safety culture, commitment from management, communication, consultation, surveys, programs, inspections, audits, job safety analysis, training, employee involvement, etc are just some of the activities that can be implemented which can result in this attitude shift and create a positive workplace culture.

Information for this article was sourced from . For more information on contact MLA Holdings on 131 652 or

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Dangers of Workplace Complacency

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 june sbjune   

Workplace complacency occurs when you’ve been doing something a certain way for so long without incident that you naturally assume there can never be an incident. Workers and operators develop a false sense of security and that’s when things can start to go wrong. Complacency is a common and frustrating occurrence in most workplaces in some form or another and can have devastating consequences. It can become particularly dangerous when operating a forklift and working in an environment where forklifts commonly operate.

Complacency is regarded by many as safety’s worst enemy. Although safety processes are always put in and we start off with the best intentions, confidence and routine inevitably set it, and that almost always leads to complacency. It is not unusual to see operators raising their load while turning their forklift or exceeding speed limits in order to meet deadlines. The pre-start checklist system is another procedure that is frequently skipped. Operators get deceived into a sense of complacency and genuinely believe that the equipment is safe to operate even when taking these shortcuts.

It’s not only operators that are guilty of complacency. The above occurrences are quite common, but how often is this behaviour challenged by managers and supervisors? Until these incidents result in accidents, they go unnoticed in many workplaces, jeopardizing the safety of many employees. It is up to both operators and managers alike to battle complacency.

In regards to forklifts, WorkCover NSW states that:

·         Employers are responsible for providing proper information, training and supervision.

Employees have responsibilities too. WorkCover NSW states that they must:

·         Comply with reasonable instructions, training and information given to them, and follow safe work procedures to do work.

Operators need to be trained to understand the importance of forklift inspection and maintenance as well as safe and correct operation of the machinery. Managers and supervisors must provide site and equipment specific training to maintain and enhance operators’ skills. As things get forgotten and bad habits and complacency form, an effective system of management and supervision needs to be in place to ensure operators receive regular familiarisation and refresher training.

The best way to fight complacency is regular reminders. Safety meetings before every shift are effective as they bring safety awareness to the forefront of everybody’s mind right before they begin each and every shift.

Information for this article was sourced from and For further forklift safety information contact MLA Holdings on 131 652 or

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Mobile Phones: A Risky Distraction

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It is common knowledge that using a mobile phone whilst driving a vehicle on Australian roads is against the law. It is considered to be a distraction to the driver and therefore deemed to be unsafe. There are currently no laws or regulations relating to mobile phone use when operating a forklift. This is perhaps somewhat surprising. The workplace presents a forklift operator with many hazards, just like the road does a vehicle driver. To navigate these hazards safely, the operator needs to be free of distractions, and mobile phones are a major one.

The key role mobile phones play in distracting forklift operators is to take their attention away from the task at hand, whether it’s brief or prolonged. Workplace and warehouse environments, where forklifts commonly operate, are generally confined and high traffic areas. Forklifts are often in close proximity to pedestrians, expensive goods, and other machinery. To ensure the safe operation of forklifts and reduce the risk to others, operators’ full attention is required at all times.

Mobile phones can also be distracting even when they aren’t being used. Operators can lose control of their forklift when seeking to grab an unsecured item that is in danger of falling within the cab area. These items are often mobile phones; however they can also be something as trivial as a pen. The problem is that it's a reflex response and it takes at least one or both hands away from the controls.
Because it’s not against the law, allowing mobile phone use whilst operating forklifts is a decision that needs to be made by management. The first thing to do is carry out a Risk Assessment to determine when and if mobile phone use is necessary at your workplace.

Operators taking or making personal calls while at the wheel should most certainly be prohibited. Where there is a legitimate reason for using the phone for work purposes, a hands-free kit or other safer communication systems should be considered.

It is strongly advised to avoid using mobile phones when operating a forklift. Just as they are to drivers on the roads, mobile phones are a risky distraction to operators of forklifts. After carrying out a Risk Assessment, it is up to management to establish rules regarding mobile phone use at the workplace and enforce them.

Information for this article was sourced from For further forklift safety information contact MLA Holdings on 131 652 or

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Forklift Safety - best practice is more than a licence

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Forklift operation is classified as ‘high risk work’ under Work Health and Safety legislation (in effect in most jurisdictions from 1 January 2012) and as such, forklift drivers must possess a high-risk work licence. However, employers should consider that holding a licence is not necessarily a sign of competency and a best practice approach ought to be adopted.

Here are some guidance notes from the consultancy on best practice relating to operating forklifts in workplaces.

Context — high-risk work
High-risk work encompasses scaffolding, dogging and rigging, crane and hoist operation including boom type elevated work platforms (EWPs), reach stackers (intermodal shipping container handling), pressure equipment operation and the operation of forklifts. The focus of this article is on forklift safety.

Training and licensing
Training for high-risk work can only be carried out by an approved Registered Training Organisation (RTO). Approved by WorkCover NSW, RTOs can deliver training and arrange a licence assessment for high-risk work licences in NSW. The outcome of such training is for a forklift driver to be competent in the basic skills and standard procedures. A three-day course is usually involved in obtaining a forklift licence. (Check your states authority body for more information).

Why a licence is not enough
Being competent in a basic sense means just that — basic operations; and, as a result, if a different vehicle is driven from that used in training, issues can arise. Similarly training cannot prepare a driver for the particular idiosyncrasies of a given workplace or the special needs of a particular warehouse or loading dock.  This work environment is where the need for more training and focused workplace training is critical.

Who pays for the licence?
Some awards and agreements may specify who is responsible for paying for a licence and, in such cases, that regulation would settle the matter. It should be noted that businesses do not apply for licences on behalf of their workers — instead, a person must apply for his/her own licence.

In-house training
In the case of forklift drivers, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) need to ensure these workers are familiar with the workplace, as well as the particular brand and type of forklift they will be operating. Forklift training should also be given due attention by the PCBU when assessing relevant workplace risks. PCBUs can further support their forklift drivers with in-house training by a ‘competent’ person’. A proper training regime would also include a timetable for review of competencies, as well as refresher training on an annual basis. In addition, accurate records should be kept so that the measures put in place can be demonstrated to an inspector.

Information for this article was sourced from further forklift safety information contact MLA Holdings on 131 652 or

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Safety guide for businesses

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We’re serious about forking safety, and you should be too. If you employ forklift operators, this guide will help keep you, other workers and visitors at your site safe. There are three main reasons why workers are killed or seriously injured in forklift incidents in NSW:

1)       Being hit or crushed by a forklift

2)       Being hit or crushed by a load that the forklift is moving

3)       Being crushed in a forklift tip-over

Pedestrians are most at risk of being hit by a forklift if they are:

·         walking alongside it

·         picking stock off a nearby shelf

·         walking in between it and a delivery vehicle

·         stepping into its path, or assisting with loading/unloading.

Keep ‘em separated

The best way to make sure people are not hit by a forklift is to keep them away from forklifts, by using physical barriers like guardrails or overhead walkways. Where this is not possible:

·         schedule work so that forklifts and pedestrians are not in the same area at the same time

·         clearly mark walkways and safe work zones for pedestrians

·         make pedestrian crossings, ideally with boom gates or red/green traffic lights

·         provide dedicated loading and unloading areas for delivery vehicles

·         have a designated exclusion or safety zone for delivery drivers, and wherever possible prevent them from entering the loading area to assist with the loading and unloading of their vehicle.

Use safety devices

If your forklift doesn’t have these safety features, consider retro-fitting them or hiring a forklift with these fitted:

·         “Smart” technologies like proximity devices to trigger signals, boom gates and warning signs.

·         Warning devices like reverse lights, flashing lights, beepers, quackers and focus beams.

·         Speed-limiting devices to reduce forklifts to a walking pace when operating near pedestrians

·         Operator visibility devices like side mirrors and reverse cameras

Don’t lose your load

Most serious injuries and deaths related to a falling load happen when the load isn’t stable on the pallet, or because the operator did not use an attachment when one was needed. Typically, workers are most at risk of being hit by a falling load when they are trying to help the operator stabilise it, load or unload, or generally if working within striking distance.

To ensure their load is safe:

·         use a suitable forklift for the load, with the correct load capacity

·         use and maintain the forklift in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations

·         provide and use stillage bins where appropriate

·         supply suitable attachments for the types of loads to be moved

·         provide training to staff on loading and unloading procedures and the use of attachments

Information for this article was sourced from For further forklift safety information contact MLA Holdings on 131 652 or

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