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Forklifts and seatbelts

Does your forklift need a seatbelt?

Forklifts do not, by law, require a seatbelt. In the current Approved Code of Practice from 1995, there is not even a mention of a seatbelt. However, it’s likely that a new code of practice will mandate seatbelts for all new forklifts as the current advice from WorkSafe is that all vehicles must be safe for the intended use.

Can you retrofit a seatbelt to a forklift?

To comply with this advice, you might consider retrofitting a seatbelt to your forklift. In this case, you’ll most likely opt for a 75mm-wide retractable lap belt that complies with AS/NZ 2664. This was suggested in WorkSafe’s Workplace Traffic Management document.

Must your driver wear a seatbelt if one is fitted?

Again, there is nothing in the Approved Code of Practice about seatbelts on forklift, only if a person is in a personnel cage. However, given WorkSafe’s advice, and best practice, if a seatbelt is present, it must be worn by the operator.

The seatbelt eliminates the ability for a driver to try to jump clear if the forklift is heading for a crash. Jumping clear of the forklift usually carriers more risk of injury than staying in it and bracing for any impact. People have been crushed to death trying to jump out of a forklift only for it to land on top of them or swing into them.

Seat belt is present, but driver isn’t wearing it.

Also, a driver can be thrown from the vehicle in an impact, if a sharp turn is made or if the forklift tips over.

Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

Posted in Advice
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