Case Studies

Case Study 1

An Australian icon canned fruit company experienced an incident where a forklift hit a worker.

Thankfully, the incident was not a major one and the worker returned within a few weeks. However, WorkSafe instructed the company to engage a Traffic Management consultant.

When I got to site, forklifts and pedestrians worked in close proximity, creating a toxic recipe for disaster.

Running three shifts meant I needed to observe behaviours on all shifts to see if they remained the same or changed with other shift behaviours. This allowed me to also consult with personnel on all three shifts to get coal-face opinions.

By the end of the project we were able to re-route forklifts without a loss of production, which gave us a significant reduction in the potential for collisions with pedestrians.

We were also able to review some of the relevant manufacturing processes, which had been developed in haste to accommodate growth, but were not the best design for productivity and safety.

Further, we able to re-route workers from critical areas, and establish paths which were much safer. For instance, as this organisation had a vast amount of seasonal workers, an average of 174 trips to First Aid were taken in the first week of the season due to motion sickness from the fruit conveyors. As they also had to eventually return to their post, you simply double that, and find it meant approximately 348 trips across a forklift-busy area were taken. That is dangerous!

Once the 17 page report was finished, I it to the OHS committee, which we went through and discussed page by page. To their credit, every change was implemented, and they even had a couple of their own changes they ran by me, and then put into practice.

The end result was a complete separation of forklifts and pedestrians, resulting in a happier workforce and more productive forklift operations.

Case Study 2

This building products distributor has highly active worksites in Vic, NSW & Qld, with forklifts and trucks of all sizes at each branch, working in close proximity with each other and with pedestrians. I audited the company which enabled them to to implement effective traffic management processes.

In a 2012 incident on one worksite, a forklift ran over a worker’s foot who was in the exclusion zone. This company entered into an enforceable undertaking with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland that required the company to engage a consultant (me) to conduct a traffic management system audit across three states – and implement improvements.

I visited each worksite and discussed the issues with managers, supervisors, truck drivers, forklift operators and workers. This helped to clarify how the operation worked, production capacities, lead times and other business constraints.

A key focus was that the safety system and business requirements should be closely linked to ensure that the worksite remained safe while production was maintained or improved.

It became clear that although this company believed it was working safely, there were a number of safety issues, including:
Workers and forklifts working too close to each other
Truck drivers working too close to forklifts whilst loading or unloading
Truck drivers not clear about site safety rules
Pedestrian walkways not always in the safest of locations.

As well, although the core business was the same, each worksite had specific hazards. As a result, I developed an individual traffic management plan at each site, which now provides a system of control over all parts of vehicle and pedestrian movement. Each plan has been individually designed to suit the way each site works, including entry and exit, production and site layout and addresses how vehicles and pedestrians can move around each site safely.

Other changes implemented include:

New pedestrian walkways and barriers, including redirecting pedestrians via a safe route behind the production facility, rather than across the face of it

New structures erected as driver safety zones – with sideloader forklifts, it is unsafe to have truck drivers standing beside their cabins during loading or unloading operations. The new zones mean drivers do not need to remain in their vehicles and there is also seating to ensure drivers can rest before travelling again

The installation of new racking with a more user-friendly layout for forklift operators

The introduction of a new forklift fleet, incorporating technology such as speed-limiting devices and automated pre-start checks.

Additional communication, training and engagement with site-based staff.

The Company says the results show the importance of consulting with the people who have to work with identified hazards. It is a good example of a business using traffic management planning processes to address the interaction of plant and vehicles with people in a safe and positive manner.

Case Study 3

A manufacturing organisation had a worker operating a forklift without a licence. He was experienced on a forklift but nobody checked whether he held a licence. This is more common than you would expect.

After operating the forklift for about four months without incident, the twenty-four year old decided to show off to a workmate and do some ‘donuts’ in the gravel area. The forklift lost balance and tipped. As he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, he decided to leap out to save himself. The seatbelt is meant to save you from these natural reactions. The trouble is, this young guy was a 195cm (6’4”) basketballer. His feet didn’t make it out and became trapped in the ‘moustrap’ as the forklift cabin top crushed them. Taken to hospital, he lost one foot in the first operation, then half of the second foot a year later. It didn’t need to happen!

The Company, devastated by their oversight, contacted me.

I was able to develop a traffic management plan that not only accounted for forklift behaviours but also for the daily invasion of numerous delivery trucks coming and going to the busy four factories on the same site.

As this was a WorkSafe prosecution, before I developed this plan I read extensively through the WorkSafe investigation material and looked through the DVD’s taken by WorkSafe. This was imperative, as I needed to identify any specific requirements or comments made which would impact how the plan was developed and the end result.

In the end, nothing could be done about the young man, but the Company, if they stuck to the plan, was now able to ensure no further injuries would occur.

It is far better to get me involved prior to having an incident, as the devastation echo’s for many years…and sometimes for life.

Case Study 4

This organisation has warehouses and distribution outlets in Vic, NSW, Qld, and WA. The proactive National Safety Manager wanted a traffic management ‘expert’ to look over all operations and develop individual plans to suit them.

We developed a program to suit all outlet managers, and then proceeded systematically to visit each site. In conjunction with all personnel, I developed traffic management plans that suited each sites hazards and risks and the way they did business.

In each of these sites there was a mix of forklifts, incoming and outgoing trucks, and busy workers going about the daily routines.

I was able to stand back and observe the interactions, then apply each State’s legislation and smart business practices to arrive at safety solutions that didn’t impact operations and, in some cases, actually created greater efficiencies.