Modified Toyota forklift creates more opportunities for worker

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Glen Dimplex factory hand Shaun O’Bryan is relishing a range of new working roles thanks to a modified Toyota 8-Series 1.8-tonne payload forklift.

Kyle Maidment Pecan Production Manager, Luke Axford Barcuma Business Development and Shaun O'Bryan Pecan staff
Kyle Maidment Pecan Production Manager, Luke Axford Barcuma Business Development and Shaun O'Bryan Pecan staff
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O’Bryan, who has dwarfism, was placed in employment with Glen Dimplex by specialist disability employment service provider Barkuma in 2012.

Starting off as a factory labourer, O’Bryan’s desire to get his forklift licence and an issue he was having with an electric walk-behind forklift prompted the initial discussions about a modified machine.

Barkuma’s Luke Axford describes the process as starting with a visit to O’Bryan where he spoke about an issue with an electric walk-behind forklift and discussed the possibility of him making some workplace modifications through the Federal Government’s JobAccess program.

"JobAccess provided an occupational therapist and after an environment assessment report the Department authorised quotes and contact was made with Toyota Material Handling (TMHA) South Australia area sales manager, Paul Warburton. Paul helped select a model that could most easily be modified," he explains.

From there, TMHA called upon the services of long-standing partner, Dometic, "for some design and engineering elements of the 8-Series forklift modifications".

"Normally when modifying a forklift, we’re arranging an increase in cabin height but in Shaun’s case we were looking to reduce it," Dometic general manager Phil Wilkins says. "The main thing was to get the correct seat index point – the point of your hips when you’re sitting in the seat – for Shaun because his legs and arms are shorter in proportion to his torso.

"We got Shaun over for the fit-out and measured things up – then we made mock-ups for floor height, handles, steps and pedals. It was a fairly rigorous trial period and he came over many times to test-drive it before we finalised things," Warburton adds.

Modifications include raising the 8-Series’ floor and pedals by 15cm, moving handles down and adding extra handles to assist entry and exit, and the addition of mini-levers.

"Our pre-delivery guys worked really hard to get it to suit Shaun – it is a unique machine and definitely customised for him. He was stoked beyond words, so the result speaks for itself," Warburton adds.

And thanks to the 8-Series’ easily reversible and transferable modifications, when it’s due to be traded or upgraded, everything can be un-bolted to return the forklift to standard so it won’t affect its value.

O’Bryan says he is still pinching himself in regards to his new machine.

"The old walk-around forklift wasn’t suitable for me, but I never expected a whole brand-new fork truck," O’Bryan says.

"Toyota did such a fantastic job with the modifications, it’s very comfortable to use, it feels exactly like it was built for me."

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