Forklift Safety Tips for the Workplace
For many companies, forklifts are an essential part of their business operations. Forklifts make it easier to move inventory and get shipments ready to go. But they can also be incredibly dangerous. Every year, tens of thousands of people are injured in forklift accidents and many more are killed. It’s very important that businesses that depend on forklifts use them in the safest way possible.
If you’re an employer who uses forklifts, make sure all operators are trained and qualified. OSHA estimates that about 70% of forklift accidents could have been prevented through proper training. By law, all forklift operators need to be over the age of 18 and successfully complete a training program.
Don’t just assume that because a person has a driver’s license that they’ll be capable of using a forklift. Operating a forklift is not like driving a regular car. Not only are forklifts significantly heavier than passenger vehicles, they’re more difficult to stop because they only have brakes on the front. And since forklifts are designed to carry heavy items, they have an uneven weight distribution that makes it easy for them to tip over when turning.
Forklifts should be inspected daily to look for signs of damage and make sure they’re still in good working order. Check the brakes, steering, and lift controls to make sure they’re running smoothly. Seat belts and other safety features like lights and horns need to be functioning properly. Don’t forget to check the tire pressure since improper tire pressure can cause forklifts to tip over. Look for accumulations of grease or other debris on the machine that could start a fire. Also, make sure the machine’s load capacity is easy to read because an improperly loaded forklift can easily result in a serious accident.
It’s not easy for forklifts to move around, so anything that can make it easier for them to get around is beneficial. Keep aisles and loading areas as clean and uncluttered as possible so that forklift operators don’t have to try to move around random items. Make sure the spaces forklifts operate in are well lit and have plenty of overhead room for forklift operators to be able to get things from tall racks without damaging things like sprinkler systems or electrical wiring. If there’s a liquid such as water or oil on the floor, that needs to be cleaned up as soon as possible since it can make it harder for forklifts to brake when needed.
Mark it Up
People working on foot need to be able to safely work alongside people who are using forklifts. Use floor tape to make clearly defined forklift zones and pedestrian zones. Approximately 10% of all forklift accidents are caused by a person being hit or run over by a forklift, so it’s very important to warn people about where they might expect to encounter machinery. Conversely, forklift operators also need to know where pedestrians are likely to be so they can be aware to proceed with caution.
Slow and Secure
One of the best things forklift operators can do to prevent accidents is work slowly. Drive slowly so that you’re better able to watch out for people or other hazards. Don’t make quick, sudden stops or turns since they can throw off the balance of a forklift and cause it to tip over. Make sure you raise and lower loads as slowly and smoothly as possible.
If you’ve been injured in a forklift accident, contact a workplace injury lawyer. Being injured on the job can be an extremely overwhelming experience and an attorney will be able to help you understand what your legal options are, help you with a worker’s compensation claim, or handle a lawsuit on your behalf.