A national campaign and audit to assess the safety of forklifts will commence in South Australia.
The campaign will investigate the dangers of forklifts and the cost to the industry of injuries.
SafeWork SA will concentrate on forklift safety in the wholesale grocery and fruit/vegetable industries.
South Australian statistics alone for the period 2005-08 show there were 2,800 forklift truck related claims, which resulted in total workers compensation costs in excess of $23 million.
SafeWork SA inspectors will visit work sites to assess the initial level of compliance and provide guidance, assistance and necessary enforcement to improve forklift operation safety.
The campaign aims to assist employers to safeguard workers from injury, highlight the importance of systematically identifying hazards in workplaces and implement sustainable control measures to eliminate or minimise incidents.
Industrial Conveying (Aust) Managing Director Don Erskine says the campaign is the first example of how across the board Australia is admitting traditional forklifts are not the way of the future.
The industrial equipment company, which has begun rollout of its Automated Warehouse Truck (AWTs), has been focusing on removing traditional forklift trucks from the workplace along with the inherent dangers they cause.
“Our company doesn’t believe in waiting for more injuries and costs, so our AWT solution is already on the Australian market to replace the main cause of these- statistics wherever possible,” Erskine says.
Erskine argues most jobs traditionally handled by forklifts can be adequately performed by completely automated AWT units, removing human traffic from the potential danger zones.
AWTs operate completely without driver assistance and navigate using a laser guided or a spot system (or a dual system using both).
Erskine says it is no surprise a national authority is making an audit on forklift related injuries during tasks such as loading and unloading vehicles, and it is not before time.
“The HWSA reports injuries from manual tasks and moving objects in both the grocery and fruit/vegetable wholesale industries impose a financial burden on the Australian economy, and that is why we are adamant about the future being largely about AWTs.”
Results of the SafeWork SA campaign are expected by March 2011.