Forklift trucks represent a well-known occupational hazard in many modern industrial environments. In terms of severe work-related injuries and fatalities, exposure to forklift trucks in the transport industry, in wholesale and retail and in manufacturing implies high risks to operators, pedestrian workers and others in the environment. Creating industrial environments where vehicle, pedestrian and material movements can flow productively without hazardous conflicts requires logistics and safety analyses as a basis for the design and layout of facilities.
Monash University Accident Research Centre, funded by Worksafe Victoria (the local workers’ compensation insurer and industrial safety regulator), has coordinated a development project with the following components:
· the development and testing of a paradigm for dynamic stability assessment of industrial forklift trucks;
· the formation of a local team of experts in forklift safety, transport, logistics, and industrial architecture/design to develop, through a series of workshops, the details of safe forklift transport systems operationalized into "blueprint" format for a freight terminal and a warehouse, including relevant goods receiving and dispatch areas;
· a warehouse management software application, incorporating features for conflict prognosis and necessary parameters for the managing of a distribution centre;
The project has also analysed existing alert, proximity warning and navigational systems, including systems based on ultraviolet, microwave and laser technology, together with several applications of speed limiting technology, and developed and tested a prototype RF-tag and on-vehicle receiver unit to assess costs and feasibility of using radio frequency technology to identify pedestrians in forklift truck zones.
Testing of different combinations of electronic control devices for on-vehicle or other traffic management applications for industrial forklift trucks is undertaken at a number of industrial "testbed" locations.
The blueprint designs will be used in a planned subsidy program targeting existing and prospective medium-size transport terminal operators in Victoria, where Worksafe Victoria covers the cost of expert assistance in translating the blueprint to the specific requirements of an operator willing to use the design as the basis for their new or upgraded facility.
The development project aims to report its findings in the form of a ”Safe Forklift Management Manual”, the main focus of which is the safe management of the forklift transport system, with basic parameters such as rational logistics, good information ergonomics, optimal traffic separation and management, speed and proximity control, well-structured operational environments, good systems management and preferred secondary vehicle safety features.
2003. Vol. 7, no 1