Forklift injuries cost $1.92m

Forklift-related injuries cost the Government nearly $2 million last year, with the number of claims made the lowest in the past 10 years.

An Official Information Act request to the Accident Compensation Corporation revealed new forklift-related claims last year cost ACC $1.92 million.

The cost included 593 new claims and 829 active claims.

ACC adviser Stephanie Lewis said an active claim was when someone made a new claim one year and the claim remained active in subsequent years.

There were fewer new claims and active claims last year than in the past 10 years.

There had been a rise in forklift-related fatalities but the exact number of fatality claims could not be revealed, Ms Lewis said.

If there were fewer than four fatalities in a region in a year, ACC would not reveal the number of deaths to protect the claimants' privacy.

However, there had been at least one, and fewer than four, fatalities involving a forklift in the West Coast in 2004 and at least one and fewer than four fatalities involving a forklift in both Canterbury and Wellington in 2009, and in both Bay of Plenty and Wellington in 2010 and Auckland in 2011.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesman Britton Broun said although any workplace fatality was unacceptable, the number of forklift-related fatalities was ''fairly small''.

Forklift-related injuries had declined in the past decade, he said.

The ministry sponsored the forklift national drivers' competition in the 1990s to raise awareness of the safety risks involved with forklifts and for forklift drivers to develop skills.

The competition had reduced the forklift-related ''serious harm toll''.

Although forklift operators had to be trained and licensed, there were still injuries and fatalities, Mr Broun said.

''The main causes of forklift-related injuries include excessive speed, not looking in the direction of travel, poor stacking procedures, overloading the forklift, travelling with the load raised, poor forklift maintenance and inadequate operator training.''

The ministry did not have a forklift safety campaign, but had released guidelines for using forklifts in confined spaces to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, he said.

The code of practice for training forklift operators was being reviewed, Mr Broun said.


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