Forklifts are essential to the warehousing and distribution industry because they allow a single person to lift and place large and heavy loads with little effort. However, if used incorrectly, they can lead to violent and tragic accidents. Approximately 100 employees are killed and 95,000 injured every year by forklifts, but by observing some basic forklift safety tips many of these accidents could have been prevented.
All Forklift Operators Should Be Trained
Before anyone is allowed to operate a forklift, they should be trained and certified. No one under 18 years of age should be allowed to operate a forklift and training should be done under the supervision of an experienced professional.
Forklifts Should Be Inspected Daily Before Operation
Proper forklift accident prevention is a daily and proactive task. Before operation, follow these forklift safety tips to prevent the possibility of an accident:
- Ensure the load capacity plate is readable.
- Check the tires.
- Confirm that the horn works.
- Examine forks and mast to make sure they are not bent or worn.
- Verify that the engine oil and hydraulic oil are free of leaks.
- Check that the brakes are working smoothly.
- Check the packing brakes to ensure they hold on an incline.
Practice Basic Forklift Safety
A loaded forklift weighs as much as six times the weight of a full-sized car, enough to cause severe damage when operated incorrectly. Therefore, safely operating a forklift will help ensure the security of forklift operators and any others in the same vicinity.
- Do not turn forklifts at high speeds. The most common forklift accidents are the result of turnovers, which are usually a result of turning too fast.
- Always wear a seatbelt when operating a forklift.
- Never perform stunt driving with a forklift.
- Maintain a safe distance from the edge of ramps or platforms.
- Never allow passengers to ride unless the forklift is designed to hold a passenger.
- Travel in reverse if the load blocks your view.
- Never allow anyone to stand under the forks.
- Check for adequate clearance under beams and lights.
- Observe speed limits.
- Always look in the direction of travel.
When Forklift Accidents Happen, Respond Accordingly
Unfortunately, accidents do happen no matter how much preparation takes place before and during forklift operation. Forklift seatbelts are a safety feature designed to protect operators from the natural instinct to jump from the machine when a turnover occurs. It is far better to belt up than be smashed up. If you do find yourself in a forklift while it is turning over without your seatbelt on, there are a couple of things to remember that will improve the chances of survival without injury.
- Stay in the forklift. It is still better to remain in the seat even if you have failed to put on the seatbelt.
- Lean away from the direction of the tipping.
- Grip the steering wheel or grab the handles.
- Finally, push down with your feet to force yourself back in the seat.
Forklift Accident Prevention Increases Safety and Saves Lives
While many of these forklift safety tips may seem like common sense to experienced operators, it is easy to neglect safety in the name of convenience. Remember: it is never convenient to be injured or worse as a result of a forklift accident.