Forklifts are an indispensable tool that shape the workflow at industrial facilities such as warehouses or construction sites. At first sight, it seems that using these small but potent machines to lift, pull, load, and unload all kinds of bulky and heavy items is pretty straightforward. However, it is crucial to remember that forklifts can be hazardous piece and cause serious accidents if precautions aren’t taken.
According to a report courtesy of Safe Work Australia, forklifts caused 3% of fatal injuries with vehicle involvement in the agricultural industry during 2013-2017. Another 3% of deaths on the work site come from being hit by moving objects. Even though six per cent may look negligible to some, a fatal accident is devastating to any workplace and it’s worth looking further into these numbers. Here is the breakdown of Australia’s forklift accident statistics for the past few years.
Number of accidents involving forklifts in Australia
In this article, we look at data from Safe Work Australia on reported accidents involving powered industrial trucks which lead to serious injuries or fatalities in recent years.
The highest number of injuries was recorded during the 2008-2009 period. With a total of 1,110 claims, it was the peak after which the overall trend of accidents began declining for the next 6 years. By the year 2015, injuries involving forklifts in Australia were at their lowest with 820 claims.
Forklifts are more common in some industries such as manufacturing, logistics, and storing. These fields correspondingly have the highest rates of accidents during reported years, with manufacturing in the first place with around 2,000 serious claims. Injuries in areas related to transport, postal, and warehousing amounted to approx. 1,800 accidents. With the wholesale and retail sectors recording more than 1,000 and 500 injuries respectively. Casualties in other industries were under 100 accidents for each reported year.
Number of fatalities involving forklifts in Australia
For more than 10 years the number of fatal accidents involving forklifts in Australia has remained under 10 cases per year. Despite almost 1,000 reported incidents annually, the highest death toll was 9 fatalities in 2006. Despite having lower overall numbers of accidents, agriculture and road transport fields have the most deaths with 9 and 8 people, respectively, dying in a forklift accident while working in these industries. According to Work Safe Australia, the leading cause of fatalities involving forklifts are being hit by a moving object. From 2003 to 2015 powered industrial trucks caused 68 deaths which is around 2% of total work-related fatalities across Australia during the same years.
Enterprises’ loses due to accidents involving forklifts in Australia
Every time a worker suffers an injury, they may lose their ability to work and require medical leave, as well as receiving sizable compensation in cases where negligence is found. These expenses inevitably cause losses to an enterprise. Here is an approximation of cost per claim for 2008-2015:
It is worth mentioning that businesses can have additional expenses where the cause of an accident is a violation of safe work conditions. In 2018 Specialised Concrete Pumping Victoria was fined $500,000 after a forklift operator was struck down by two-tone tubing which slid off the machine. In addition, in 2009, Fonterra Australia Pty Ltd was fined $300,000 after a forklift driver lost their life after being hit by a one-tonne salt bag.
Recovering from a serious injury can take a long time. When it comes to injuries caused by forklifts on average it takes about 5-6 weeks before the person is ready to return to work. Here is a more detailed statistics on how much work time was lost due to accidents.
Fortunately, the statistics of accidents involving forklifts are not as bad as they could be. Higher standards of work conditions combined with strict safety requirements for forklift operators have meant that Australia has the lowest number of such accidents and fatalities in the world. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that enterprises can be complacent. Maintaining safety requirements for the worksite, including floor marking, no-go and dangerous zones, traffic directions, and pedestrian alertness, is still essential. That is where expandable barriers and flexible bollards can be extremely helpful in improving safety and making sure your enterprise stays clear of these unfortunate statistics.