OSH alert – Forklift incident (July 2015)

Key learnings from a High Potential Incident.

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HPI OSH Alert #468

Date of incident: 3 July 2015

Safety Flash issued: 7 July 2015

What happened?

468 forkliftA local business owner asked if he could use a Water Corporation lay down area to temporarily store some items. Unaware of Policy ‘PCY023 - Real Estate Management’, the Water Corporation employee who was asked, gave permission. The employee warned the business owner to be aware of overhead power lines when transferring the items, then left site for a lunch break and did not supervise the tasks that were being performed.

In the process of moving a steel ISO container frame through the compound gate using a 15 tonne forklift,the business owner raised the forks to clear the gate and made contact with the overhead low voltage power line (415v). This resulted in the power line breaking which caused a power outage, the forklift to blow a fuse and several small scrub fires. No injury was sustained but the incident had the potential to be life threatening.

Why did this happen?

Mobile plant and lifting activities were performed in the vicinity of overhead power lines at the site without any evidence of Safe Job Planning. A Job Safety Environment Analysis (JSEA) and Permits to Work were not completed prior to the start of the works. Inadequate Safe Job Planning and a lack of task supervision led to unsafe working around overhead power lines. As a consequence, ‘Regulation 3.64 - Restrictions on working in vicinity of overhead power lines’ of the OSH Regulations 1996 was breached, which could have resulted in serious injury or a fatality.

What will the business area involved in the incident do to stop this from happening again? 

  • Review depot, lay down area and egress for overhead power lines, and purchase and install clearance indicators if deemed appropriate.
  • Review the need for the laydown area/yard to be retained and, if so, bring area up to required standard e.g. install signs, reinstate driveway, grounds maintenance.
  • Include laydown area/yard in regular workplace inspection schedule.

What will our organisation do to stop this from happening again?

  • Leader led communication to ensure all operators understand that Safe Job Planning is relevant to any activities, including internal and external requests.
  • Leader led communication to the business to build organisation-wide understanding that any third party use of Water Corporation land needs approval by Real Estate, Property and Procurement Branch(as per Policy ‘PCY023 - Real Estate Management’) so that appropriate agreements can be established. 


What key learnings can you discuss with your team to stop this from happening again?

Mandatory Safety Essentials for our high risk tasks apply at any time and to all people involved in conducting the work

  • What is our Duty of Care responsibility regarding safety and who does it extend to?
  • What is Water Corporation’s mandatory safety rule regarding Electrical risks?
  • S133 Electrical Safety has requirements for specific electrical hazards such as working around overhead power lines. What are the key safety requirements for working around overhead power lines?
  • If we have external requests to use Water Corporation land, what process should our team follow?

Appropriate Safe Job Planning steps must be followed on all work conducted on Water Corporation controlled sites

  • How does our team adequately plan for high risk tasks?
  • What is our process for safety observations and site inspections around high risk tasks?
  • How will we ensure that onsite supervision occurs for any high risk tasks conducted on our sites?

Further information

If you would like further information about anything included in this HPI OSH Alert, please contact Charis Neumann, Snr OSH Analyst Incidents on (08) 6330 6629.

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