Organisations conducing in-house forklift training at risk of incident, injury, and hefty fines

Across Australia, there is a high turnover in forklift truck operators, which has led to organisations moving away from nationally accredited training and turning to inhouse training. Mangers have become increasing reluctant to invest in formal accreditation through Registered Training Organisations, only for staff to move on to other roles, once they have received their qualifications.

Understandably, they are protecting their training investment. However, if an incident occurs, this course of action leaves employers highly vulnerable to a multitude of charges. In Western Australia, where certificates are not backed by the Department of Transport and WorkSafe Australia, businesses cannot prove sufficient independent verification of their operator training. As such, they cannot prove that the training delivered has met the relevant requirements.

Recently, a WA warehousing and distribution company has been fined after two of its forklift operators were found without evidence that they were competent to operate the forklifts.

A WorkSafe inspector visited the company to investigate an incident where a worker was struck by a forklift. The inspector found two forklift operators had been operating forklifts for a significant amount of time without certification. The company was issued an improvement notice and agreed to comply, however after two weeks, the workers continued to operate forklifts without licences. The company was fined a total of $8,000.

More recently, in December 2022, a Perth-based company was ordered to pay almost a quarter of a million dollars in fines after a teenager worker had seven fingers severed by forklift chains. The company was fined a total of $240,000 and ordered to pay $30,581 in costs due to the failure to provide any formal training to the employee.

In Western Australia, the National Licensing Standard requires operators of forklifts to hold a National Licence issued by WorkSafe.

Types of forklifts covered by the National Licensing Standard

  • Forklift truck – covers the operation of a powered industrial truck equipped with a mast and an elevating load carriage to which is attached a pair of forkarms or other attachment.  This type of forklift is generally referred to as a counter-balance forklift.
  • Order picking forklift truck – covers the operation of a powered industrial truck of a type where the operator’s control arrangement is incorporated with the load carriage/lifting, and elevates with it.

Under new work health and safety laws forklift operators will require a high-risk work licence issued by WorkSafe which can only be provided by a nationally accredited Registered Training Organisation.

The following amounts went into effect January 13, 2022:

  • $14,502 per violation for serious, other-than-serious and posting requirements violations
  • $14,502 per day beyond the abatement date for failure to abate
  • $145,027 per violation for a willful or repeated violation

It is the responsibility of business owners and managers to ensure that all staff are sufficiently trained and hold the relevant nationally accredited tickets ( TLILIC0003 Licence to Operate a Forklift Truck (high-risk licence LF) issued by a Registered Training Organisation in conjunction with Worksafe Australia.