Did you know that approximately 5,000 individual workers are injured or killed by forklift accidents each and every year.
It is our belief that many, if not most employers pay very little attention to forklift safety training for their employees. As a result, forklift safety is a critical industrial problem.
There are some basic principles that can help ensure a safer working environment wherever forklifts are used. Any worker required to operate a forklift should be properly trained and be qualified to operate the forklift for the worker’s specific piece of equipment they will operating.
The following are safety recommendation for worker using forklifts.
- Keep loads uphill. It’s easy to tip over on ramps and sloping surfaces, whether the forklift is loaded or unloaded. When driving a loaded forklift on ramps with a grade on 10% or ore always keep the load uphill, even if this means driving in reverse down the ramp.
- When forward visibility is obstructed or blacked, always drive in reverse. Don’t try to see around the load.
- Be aware of stability issues. A forklift can become dangerously unstable when being driven with raised load or a raised empty load carriage. Dual wheeled forklifts provide an extra margin of safety in lateral stability when lifting loads above 15 feet. Another important point is that loads attached to a forklift or suspended from a jib attachment are more likely to result in a full forward tip over when braking.
- Check the equipment and load before use. Always check that the load is within the forklift load limit listed on the load capacity plate. If the load isn’t placed correctly, reload it. Stability is Critical for Safe Operation.
- Stay with the forklift if it begins to tip over. Experience from around the world has shown that staying in the vehicle is the safest way to go. The most common cause of death with these vehicles is when an operator attempts to jump clear of an overturning forklift and is crushed by either the overhead protective guard structure or the mast. The operator should remain in the forklift with the seatbelt fastened, grip the steering wheel firmly, brace both feet on the floor, and lean their body away from the direction of the fall.
- Level floors are important: Uneven flooring, particularly with a height difference in excess of 1.6 inches across the front wheels, can seriously affect forklifts stability when carrying its rated load at full height.
- Forklifts are dangerous and must be treated with care. Lifting people on the forks is unsafe and should never be allowed.
- Exclusion zones must be established in the workplace that are for forklifts only. Safety officers must ensure that all workers recognize and respect these zones.
If you need additional information on forklift safety and litigation, call our Law Firm at 1.800.862.1260.