Even though forklift operators experience much pressure to perform efficiently, it should never be at the expense of safety. In the U.S alone there are over 1 million operating forklifts in warehouses and various other environments. Meaning, there are countless people besides operators coming in contact with all these forklifts and their security should be a priority.
Let’s discuss why safety is so important and what you can do to improve safety in your workplace.
With over 96,000 forklift-related incidents a year including non-serious, serious and fatal injuries, more companies are equipping operators with appropriate safety training. Common causes of forklift accidents include:
Operating a forklift with an elevated load
Insufficient warnings and markings
Giving rides or riding on the forklift load
Investing upfront in quality training for operators would reduce costly injury-related expenses down the line.
Be one with the forklift you operate
Learn how to care for your forklift properly. The better you know your machine, the easier it will be to detect when something is wrong. Routine daily inspections are required by OSHA regulations under the Powered Industrial Truck standard at 1910.178(q)(7). Some of the main checkpoints during inspections include seat belts, tires, lights, horn, brakes, backup alarms, and fluid levels, as well as the moving and load-supporting parts of the forklift.
Know the basics
The forklift stability triangle is a fundamental concept every forklift operator should have in their knowledge toolbox. A counterbalance forklift has a three-point suspension system. Points at the front two wheels and the center of the steer axle come together to form a stability triangle. To safely carry a load, the forklift’s center of gravity needs to fall within the triangle’s perimeter. Whenever there aren’t any loads on the forklift, the center of gravity is right at the center of the counterbalance. As weight is added, the center of gravity begins to shift to the front axle. The closer to the edge of the front axle, the more unsafe the load becomes to carry. Make sure to master this concept and the following tips to avoid tipping over:
Loads should always be completely stable and secure on the forks
Loads should be kept low to the ground
Loads should be tilted up when ascending or descending an incline
Drive slowly in wet or slippery conditions
Slow down when making a turn
Use horn at intersections and in congested areas
Safety should always be top of mind when operating a forklift. Don’t underestimate the importance of conducting daily inspections and mastering concepts such as the forklift stability triangle. By staying alert and exercising good judgment, incidents of all severity can be avoided.