Forklift Safety – Preventing Fatalities

Forklift Safety – Preventing Fatalities


  • In October 2018 an experienced forklift operator was killed when the forklift he was operating tipped over and pinned him.
  • All operators should hold a current high-risk work licence to operate the forklift
  • Since 2012 there has been an average of 430 accepted workers’ compensation claims for injuries involving forklifts each year. Forty percent of these involve serious injuries with five or more days off work.
  • Forward this bulletin to your frontline workers to start a discussion on correct operation and safety when operating a forklift

Forklift Fatality October 2018 – What happened

The forklift’s mast collided with an overhead steel beam, causing the forklift to tip over onto its side pinning the operator. It appears the operator may not have been wearing a seat belt. Investigations are continuing.

Unfortunately, as a result of forklifts being an ongoing workplace fixture in warehouses, factories, etc workers may become complacent. Incidents involving forklifts are often usually serious and often fatal.

How to keep your workers safe:

PCBU’s should:

  • Conduct a risk assessment of the area to determine which forklift is suitable
  • Consult with forklift operators about hazards at each particular workplace and consider those hazards as part of a risk assessment
  • Buy or hire forklifts with seatbelts, reversing beepers, flashing lights, intelligent systems, speed-limiting devices, load-weighing devices, and other stability-enhancing features
  • Ensure seatbelts are correctly fitted and worn.

Operators should:

  • Use the forklift truck only for the purpose for which it was designed
  • Hold a high-risk work licence to operate a forklift truck or be an authorised trainee
  • Wear a seatbelt if one is fitted. The only exception is if a risk assessment advises otherwise- for example when operating a forklift truck on a wharf
  • Ensure that loads are within the rated load capacity of the forklift truck and carry them as close to the ground as possible
  • Operate the forklift truck with the load placed fully against the truck carriage or back rest. The mast should be tilted sufficiently backward to safeguard the load
  • Only use attachments approved by the forklift manufacturer
  • Operate the machine as per the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Maintain a clear view ahead and behind (via a correctly adjusted rear view mirror) and give clear indication of your intentions. Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles
  • Observe speed limits and ensure you can make a safe stop at any time. Avoid rapid acceleration, deceleration, and quick turns
  • Reduce speed when making a turn. Take care that the tip of the fork (or load) or the rear side of the forklift truck does not touch a nearby person or object
  • Never park or leave the forklift in any doorway, entrance, emergency exit or in front of fire extinguishing equipment, ensure loading ramps are properly secured prior to unloading or loading the forklift.

In 2013 and again in 2016 companies liable for forklift incidents have been fined tens of thousands of dollars.

Since 2012 there has been an average of 430 accepted workers’ compensation claims for injuries involving forklifts each year. Forty per cent of these involved serious injuries with five or more days off work. During the same period, there have been 138 notified incidents involving workers or bystanders being struck by, run over or trapped by a forklift.

Forklift safety is an ongoing priority for all PCBU’s and front-line workers. We encourage you to share this bulletin with supervisors and front-line workers as a way to keep the discussion open and top of mind.

For more information on Forklift Safety visit:

Information used in this article was gathered from industry sources in including WorkSafe Queensland: