Forklifts are one of the most used pieces of equipment on your worksite. Just like with any industrial equipment, they can pose a safety risk if not used by properly trained crews. According to Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), an estimated 34,900 serious injuries and 85 fatal accidents are caused by forklifts every year.
Tips for Forklift Safety
At Trupar America, we’ve put together some helpful tips to keep you and your crew safe while operating a forklift.
With 25% of forklift accidents being caused by inadequate training, it is important to only allow those who have been trained and licensed to run a forklift. Make sure your operators have a forklift certification, and be sure to evaluate employee performance once every three years. You can supplement their training with demonstrations, lectures, videos, and more.
Perform Daily Equipment Inspections
Your crew should know to inspect the forklift prior to every use. We recommend that the shift supervisor perform daily checks. They can then identify and log any problems or defects they find. If the forklift requires repairs, it should not be operated. We recommend that you check the following:
- Check for oil, water, and radiator leaks.
- Check for any potential hazards.
- Inspect the overhead guard and mast for any damage.
- Check tire pressure and fluid levels.
- Check the forks to make sure they are straight and without any cracks or distortion.
- Test the controls (brakes, lights, horn, steering wheel) to ensure they are working properly.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Proper clothing for forklift operators includes:
- Safety shoes
- Hard hats
- High-visibility jacket
Be sure that your forklift operators also tuck in any loose clothing to keep it from being caught on the machine.
Know the Class of the Forklift
Based on information from OSHA, there are several different forklift types and classifications to keep in mind. Each type has its own weight limit, structure, turning radius, usage, and traveling speed, so it is crucial to know the forklift’s class prior to operating.
Use a Floor Marking System
To increase worker safety, we recommend that you use yellow to mark physical hazards, such as areas where stumbling or falling can occur. You will also want to use red to make fire equipment, fire hazards, and emergency switches.
We also recommend that you place signs and way finders through your worksite to keep pedestrians out of the way of forklift paths while also keeping the forklift on safe routes and improving the flow of machinery and foot traffic.
Maintain Complete Visibility
When operating the forklift, the forks should be kept low to the ground so you have clear forward visibility. For times when the load restricts your forward visibility, you should operate the equipment in reverse. When positioning a load, you want to be sure that you have a clear view of the rack. OSHA best practices for visibility include:
- Make eye contact with other workers and pedestrians.
- Maintain your look in the direction of travel.
- Use your headlights if you are working outdoors, at night, or in areas where the lighting is limited.
- Utilize rear-view mirrors for better visibility.
Move at the Appropriate Speed
Just like with a car, it is crucial to operate your forklift at the designated speed limit. You also want to make sure that you are not stopping, turning, or changing direction suddenly, or taking turns too fast, as this can cause the forklift to tip over. If the forklift does start to tip, remain in the machine, grab the wheel, and brace your feet.
Keep Loads Secure and Stable
When placing a load, you want to make sure that it is balanced. When traveling, you should have the load tilted backward, keeping the forks as low as you can. This will increase the stability of the machine, specifically when navigating ramps. It is also important to use rope or bindings to keep heavy loads and stacks secure.
Ways to Improve Your Forklift Safety
One of the best ways to improve your forklift safety is to buy or rent a forklift that is safely maintained and comes from a trusted supplier like Trupar America. Safe quality equipment, in addition to operator training and certification, can help create a safer work environment for your entire crew. When searching for “forklift dealers near me,” be sure to choose Trupar America with our extensive selection of new and used forklifts to choose from.