Manufacturing News

Forklift accident crushes man’s foot

A Kilsyth, Victoria, company was convicted and fined $60,000 on Monday (15th) after a forklift driven by a 22-year-old man tipped over, crushing his foot which was later amputated.

The worker was not licensed to drive a forklift — nor was he wearing a seatbelt when the forklift tipped in December 2008.

The Ringwood Magistrates Court heard that his employer, Elliot Engineering (an engineering business specialising in medium to heavy metal fabrication), failed to provide safe systems of work in respect of forklift operations.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain safe plant and systems of work.

The worker began driving forklifts less than a month after beginning work with Elliott Engineering. After a few months, he was driving a forklift every second day – despite not holding a license.

The incident occurred when the worker tried to make a right turn on an uneven and inclined gravel area.

As the machine tipped, the operator went to jump out the left side but the forklift landed on his feet and trapped him.

When investigating the incident, WorkSafe found Elliot Engineering did not have systems to ensure forklift drivers held licences, were trained, or wore seatbelts.

In addition, drivers had not been trained on the Linde forklifts, which had a different foot pedal set-up to other forklifts used at that workplace.

Since the incident, Elliot Engineering has responded to WorkSafe improvement notices by implementing a register of employees who hold a forklift licence, and a system which disables forklifts’ engines until the operator has fastened the seatbelt.

WorkSafe’s acting Executive Director, Stan Krpan, said: “We’ve been telling businesses about risks from forklift for years — there are no excuses for employers. If you operate forklifts as part of your business, drivers need to be licensed, formally trained and wearing their seatbelt.”

WorkSafe’s publication ‘Forklift safety: Reducing the risk’ is available online along with other useful safety information at or call WorkSafe’s Advisory Service on 1800 136 089.

Forklift licence changes: To ensure high standards are maintained with forklifts and other high risk work, a new form of licence has been introduced.

Old style ‘tickets‘ are being phased out and forklift drivers are required to obtain the new license containing the holder’s photograph which will have to be renewed every five years.

People wanting to find out more about the new ‘Licence for high risk work’ should go to WorkSafe’s website, where there is a calculator for people needing to check when their current ticket expires. ‘Tickets’ issued before September 2000 have now expired and the holders should contact WorkSafe immediately.

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