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Forklift-specific duties

Wherever forklifts are used in the workplace, employers must ensure that the:

  • operation of the forklift does not impact on safety of others, including pedestrians
  • the lifting attachments are appropriate for the load
  • the weight of the load is known and within the safe working limits of the forklift
  • the load remains under control while being lifted or suspended
  • forklift operator can read and interpret the load capacity plate on the forklift.

The law also requires, so far as is reasonably practicable, that:

  • loads are not carried or suspended over people
  • loads are not lifted simultaneously by more than one piece of equipment.

Forklifts generally should not be used to lift people. However, if there are no other practicable means of accessing height and a forklift needs to be used for this purpose, it must be done using a work platform that is securely attached to the forklift. The forklift must have a maximum load capacity, with other special conditions. Employers must also ensure that people can be safely rescued if there is an incident or problem with the forklift.

General duties

By law, employers must provide a safe working environment for their workers, so far as is reasonably practicable. In addition to protecting the safety of your workers, you also must ensure that other people (such as drivers, visitors and the general public) are not exposed to risks as a result of your business.

Furthermore, if you manage or control a workplace you are responsible for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the area you control or manage is safe and without risks to health. This duty extends to entrances and exits, and it applies to your employees as well as the general public.

This means:

  • you must eliminate any risks to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • if it's not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risks, you must reduce them so far as is reasonably practicable.

Other duties

Under Victorian OHS laws, employers are also responsible for the health and safety of all workers, including labour hire personnel or contractors, at their workplace. If you are a host employer with labour hire workers you must treat labour hire workers and other contractors the same as your own workers – provide and maintain a safe working environment and conditions.

If you store dangerous goods (for example, substances that are flammable, explosive or toxic), you must comply with a range of specific legal requirements.

You also have specific duties in relation to hazards such as:

If your worker has a work-related injury or illness, you have duties under the Victorian workers compensation legislation, one of which is to ensure their safe return to work. The employer's obligations include:

  • appoint a return to work coordinator,
  • develop and implement a return to work plan
  • support and monitor your worker when they return to work.