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3 Common Forklift Accidents and How to Prevent Them

 Accidents in the workplace are common, but many of the most common forklift accidents can be prevented with proper training and equipment maintenance. 

At Trupar America, we have outlined three of the most common forklift accidents and what you can do to prevent them from happening in your warehouse. 

Forklift Rollovers

A forklift rollover is the most common type of fatal forklift accident. Rollovers are mainly caused by these factors:
  • Turning too fast
  • Turning on an incline 
  • Driving across uneven surfaces
  • Abrupt movement of the mast
  • Uneven, overweight, or unbalanced loads
  • Driving with an elevated load
  • Driving with the load elevated

What to Do if You Experience a Tip-Over

If a tip-over occurs in a sit-down forklift, the operator should remain in the seat, brace for impact, and lean away from the point of the impact. For a stand-up forklift, the operator should step back and out of the operator compartment and get away from the forklift. 

Operators should also always wear their seatbelt when operating the forklift. 
To help prevent a rollover:
  • Take the corner slowly. As you turn the lift truck, the center of gravity can venture out of the zone of stability, which increases your chances of tipping the truck over. 
  • Follow the speed limits. As required by OHSA, operators should follow the set speed limits. In some cases, employers can set the speed on their trucks via the manufacturer to prevent speeding. 
  • Don't turn on an incline. Continue descending the incline, then turn when you are off of the incline. 
  • Be careful when tilting a raised mast. If you tilt too quickly, you can cause the lift truck to tip forward and then over. Also, be sure to only raise and lower the load when the truck is stopped.  
  • Don't overload the lift. Be sure to check the forklift's data tag to determine the maximum weight of your truck and safely lift it. 
  • Don't drive on uneven surfaces. Imperfections in the road's surface can cause the forklift to tip over. 
  • Keep the load low. The forklift is more stable with a load on the forks but be sure to try to keep the load as close to the ground as possible. 

Lack of Operator Training

OSHA requires every operator to be trained and certified before they can use a forklift, but in some cases, operators who are not adequately trained operate the lift trucks. If the operator is unfamiliar with the proper safety procedures and policies, it is likely that accidents will occur. 

Fortunately, this issue is easy to remedy to help decrease the chances of accidents and injury. Lack of training is typically caused by:
  • Tight on time or budget. If a company has a busy schedule or is short on its budget, it may be tempted to skip overtraining. 
  • Unaware of need. In some cases, supervisors and managers may not know the laws surrounding forklift operator training. 
To prevent a lack of operator training:
  • Sign up for operator training. By enrolling in OSHA-compliant training, you can reduce mistakes and, in turn, reduce accidents. According to OSHA, operator training can decrease forklift accidents by 70%. 
  • Keep the ROI in mind. Rather than focusing on the cost of training and the time it will take, it is important to consider the return on investment that training provides. With fewer accidents, you can keep employees safe and save money. 

Falling Loads

In some cases, forklift operators are faced with carrying more complicated, dangerous loads beyond just pallets and boxes. Some loads such as raw materials, smaller items, and other types of loads can fall if they are not secured on the lift properly. 

Falling loads are dangerous for operators and pedestrians, so it is crucial to make sure the load remains on the forks. Causes for falling loads include:
  • Titling, moving, or lifting the mast too quickly. 
  • No-load backrest.
  • Bent forks.
  • Damaged, off-center, or loose loads. 
To prevent falling loads:
  • Avoid carrying loose or damaged loads. Be sure to properly secure loads before moving them. You can use shrink wrap or banding to make sure all the materials remain on the forks during transport. 
  • Make sure the load is centered. If the material you are trying to transport can't be centered, be sure to position the heaviest part of the load close to the front wheels of the lift and against the carriage. 
  • Use the load backrest. A backrest helps to prevent items from falling backward into the operator's compartment or mast. 
  • Tilt the mast carefully. Any jerky or sudden movements, especially while retrieving materials from the racking, can cause the items to come loose and fall. 
It is also important to conduct a pre-trip inspection prior to every shift. Make sure your forks are even and that any wear on the forklift is acceptable. It is also crucial to inspect the overhead guard for structural integrity to guard you against smaller falling objects. 

Expert Forklift Maintenance Services

At Trupar America, we have a team of experienced technicians who can service your forklifts to ensure they are safe and operational for your facility. Contact us today to learn more about our forklift maintenance in Pittsburgh.  

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