Looking at Forklift Risk Management for WHS [Forklift Pre-Start Checklist]

One of the most controversial and dangerous pieces of equipment commonly found in warehouses and factory units across Australia is a forklift. From registration requirements which differ state by state to the rigorous WHS requirements by WHS legislation across the country and that’s for good reason.

Forklifts are known for serious injuries and deaths of workers every year caused by misuse or lack of safety prevention.

Safe work procedures ensure everyone who uses your forklift understands how to do so safely and correctly.

Your procedures should cover:

  • the hazard management process like traffic management site plans
  • managing unsafe forklifts
  • training schedules and licence requirements
  • incident reporting and investigation procedures

Whilst this list is not exhaustive i.e. there are many other risk management processes you can implement, these are the most common procedures that you need to implement if you are operating a forklift on your worksite.

Traffic Management Plans

A traffic management plan, in short, is a set of rules that define the safest way to move vehicles around a worksite. It should contain the practical guidelines for all vehicles and be site-specific.

When developing a traffic management plan you must consult with your forklift operators and warehouse managers to ensure that all possible circumstances are covered and that the plan contains practical and workable controls.

Incident Reporting

Developing an incident reporting procedure means that you will be able to collate information about any incidents that occur and why they occurred. You can then use that information to improve training schedules or current procedures to prevent similar incidents from happening again. You may also review your Safe Work Method Statement as it may need to be updated considering any incidents that have occurred.

Near misses should also be recorded and followed up. Reporting near misses can give you the chance of preventing a severe accident, so treat them seriously.

Unsafe Forklifts

Managing how your workers treat unsafe forklifts is critical to preventing injuries. You need to develop a procedure for your workers to follow if they find an unsafe forklift. The procedure should include inspecting and assessing the forklift, identifying faults, wear and damage, isolating and tagging the forklift and reporting to the appropriate person.


We have developed a checklist which is easy to read and can be attached to your forklifts to ensure that they are in working order before the forklift is used. Our Forklift Pre-Start Safety Checklist was designed so you can implement your own procedures. You can create a process where this checklist is completed by each operator before they begin work. Ask them to sign this off and bring to your safety officer. If the process is done correctly, and every time, the risk of injury to your workers can be significantly reduced.

Download our Forklift Pre-Start Safety Checklist here >>



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