Forklift Safety – Reducing the Risks

Forklifts cause 10 percent of workplace injuries in factories and warehouses.

However, most of these incidents can be prevented, especially when workers and businesses work together to improve health and safety at work.  Combining safety equipment, pedestrian and operator safety training, clearly demonstrates that your business takes a proactive approach to safety.

Below are some simple tips to follow to ensure safe operation of forklifts. Although these tips are simple and quite basic they are a good starting point to support workplace health and safety guidelines.

Inspect the Forklift Before Use

Inspecting the truck before every use may seem excessive but doing so can prevent many accidents. The forklift might have run over a piece of metal during its last use, leading to a tyre that’s no longer fully inflated. One of the forks might have become bent because of misuse, which could lead to a load falling. By checking for problems each time a forklift is used, these sorts of issues can be avoided.

Understand Your Load

A forklift is intended to move heavy loads, but you need to know how much weight your truck can carry (this is called the “maximum load rating”). Exceeding this amount can have disastrous consequences, as the forklift might tip over or spill the load.

Understand How Driving a Forklift is Not Like Driving a Car

Because a forklift looks like a truck, you may assume it drives like a truck, but this isn’t the case. Drivers must understand a couple of key differences to keep everyone on site safe.

First, the wheels that steer the vehicle are in the back, not the front. This means drivers need to leave room at the back of the truck to swing around and make turns.

Second, forklifts don’t respond as quickly as cars do, so stopping abruptly or swerving can cause a driver to lose control of the truck. Adjusting to these differences between a car and a forklift can take some time, so employees should always drive with caution.

A forklift should never be left unattended while running. If the operator is more than 25 feet away or can’t see the vehicle, it needs to be turned off.

Don’t Get Distracted

Distracted driving while carrying thousands of pounds of materials is dangerous and it compromises the safety of everyone in the forklift’s vicinity. Using a cell phone to send a text or changing the song on an iPod can lead to costly mistakes. Always stay focused on the job in task.

Individual forklifts may have unique operating instructions, so make sure drivers at your facility understand any special procedures. Many kinds of forklifts exist, so rules will not always be the same. Generally speaking, though, keeping the above steps in mind should help keep drivers and other workers safer around forklifts.

For more information about forklift safety, check out this free downloadable checklist.