An Easy Guide to Forklift Safety- Importance and Tips

Published on
January 30, 2024

Construction sites, warehouses, plants, dockyards – What do these workplaces have in common? If you guessed forklifts, you are right.

A forklift, equipped on the front with a power-operated platform, has an extensive range of uses, starting from lifting and moving heavy loads to extending the reach of operators. Due to its ability to transport cargo, it is a widely sought-after industrial vehicle. It is deployed in varied industries ranging from food and beverages to pharmaceuticals and textiles. To increase daily work efficiency and reduce manual intervention for dangerous lifting and moving, forklifts are available in different varieties to suit the purpose of the industry and the nature of the task.

But no matter the type of forklift, there is a unanimous agreement that despite its many benefits, forklifts are, without any shred of doubt, a huge safety hazard. To tackle the risks associated with operating this powered industrial truck, certain procedures and rules are in place when it comes to the proper use and operation of forklifts to minimize potential threats to the safety of the operator and others in the vicinity.

Why is Forklift Safety Necessary?

Being one of the most commonly used equipment on any worksite, a forklift is like a two-edged sword, harbouring multiple benefits and advantages as well as disadvantages. Statistics reveal a grim situation wherein approximately 75-100 workers succumb to their deaths due to forklift accidents. OSHA’s data indicate that between 35,000 and 62,000 injuries occur every year involving forklifts. Annually 34,900 serious injuries and 61,800 non-serious injuries are reported with regard to forklift accidents. This scenario proves the need to exercise extreme caution when dealing with forklifts and also highlights the importance of forklift safety.

What can we do?

Certain forklift safety tips can be adopted and undertaken by the concerned authority to ensure the safety of everyone in the workplace.

1. Proper Training

Adequate training of forklift operators is an indispensable element of forklift safety. Training on how to handle the forklift ensures that the operator can carry out the necessary assignments without raising any concerns. There comes more preparedness at their end with better handling of the heavy vehicle, courtesy of focused formal learning for specific types of forklifts. The training program can outline instructions for driving, geographical control and instrumentation, inspection of the vehicle, familiarization with the blind spots and handling of pedestrian traffic. Refresher training at regular intervals alleviates operational efficiency and productivity while also curtailing risks and instilling confidence in the operators. Supplementary lectures, videos, guides and demonstrations can also amp up the training process.

2. Proper Maintenance

Daily inspection of the vehicle can essentially avert disastrous situations. This forklift safety tip helps the operators, safety managers, and supervisors to identify defects or problems and take proper rectification steps. Check-lists to test brakes, lights, steering wheel, and examine tire and fluids levels on a regular basis guarantee that the forklifts are in top-notch condition. Checking the forks of the vehicle is also pertinent to curb potential hazards. This step helps the concerned authority pinpoint the defective forklifts whose operation should be halted until further repair. Inspection, therefore, increases the chances of threat detection and enhances the functioning capabilities of the forklifts.

3. Appropriate Speed and Distance

Over-speeding is one of the major causes of forklift accidents. Similar to normal vehicles, it is of utmost importance to operate forklifts at a prescribed speed to avoid injuries and fatalities. Following the designated speed limit, avoiding sharp turns, abrupt stops, and direction changes contribute to a safe drive. Abstaining from adherence to this forklift safety tip can cause the forklift to turn over and dangerous accidents may ensue. Maintaining a safe distance from objects/equipment in close proximity is another strategy for forklift safety. Keeping a safe distance from other machinery and cargo also provides the forklift an upper hand to make sudden stops and steer clear of machines moving unpredictably. These two simple precautions reduce the probability of accidents by a significant percentage.

4. Proper Visibility

When carrying heavy loads, the operator’s ability to see in front and behind him/her is hindered. As such, if efficient vigilance is employed, pedestrians can be kept safe from near-fatal and fatal accidents. Operators and pedestrians should be briefed about the blind spots that exist inside a warehouse/plant/construction site and traffic should be restricted in such areas. Measures can be taken to accommodate the lack of visibility of the operators by separating walking and driving traffic and keeping pedestrians out of the forklift’s pathway. Visibility can be improved by adjusting the layout/infrastructure of the aisles as well. Proper uniforms of florescent jackets is another tried and tested method to assist the forklift operators’ vision.

5. Use of Technology

Technology has enabled the rise of forklift safety systems. A forklift safety system is usually powered by AI to prevent infrastructure, equipment, freight, and pedestrian collision with this perilous equipment. Technology can further support and enhance safety training. Sensors attached to the body of the forklift can give managers and supervisors access to the driving behaviour of forklift operators in order to examine their at-risk behaviour and recognize unsafe drivers. Apart from driving errors, a forklift safety system is also capable of hosting checklists which facilitates the process of inspection and maintenance.  Such a safety system makes live-tracking possible allowing the supervisor/manager insights into the current location and overall history of the forklift fleet.

Therefore, if forklift safety is attained, it can significantly affect your accident prevention strategies. Investing in a thorough and robust safety regime for forklifts is paramount to curating a safe working environment for your employees. By understanding the need for forklift safety and making the necessary changes, you take a step towards a safer workplace and zero accidents.

SafetyConnect’s Forklift Safety Solution assures safety for workers, both operators, and pedestrians, by enhancing and monitoring forklift operations. Book a free demo for your industry and ensure a safer workplace.

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