Forklifts are extremely useful pieces of equipment and we operate them at the experimental unit. Forklifts, however, have some inherent safety risks. And, according to OSHA, about 100 workers are killed each year as a result of forklift accidents. Of these, 1/4 of these fatalities are caused by overturning. Other common injuries include being struck by a forklift or being struck by materials falling off a forklift.
Forklift operation is not as simple as it looks and OSHA requires training for those who do operate them. After being trained and getting some experience, it is important to remember some basic safety practices……to not let operation become so routine that we take shortcuts or do not think about the hazards.
Tipping over and losing part of a load are the most common causes of forklift-related injuries. Some factors to consider include:
- The capacity of the forklift - can it handle the size and weight of your load?
- Any odd characteristics of the load - is it top heavy, cylindrical or awkward?
- The condition of the forklift - are the forks damaged or is there some other problem that could cause an accident?
- Where you are and where you are going with the load - are there any obstacles, bumps, ramps, people, cross aisles or narrow passageways to consider?
- Other things going on that may be problematic - can co-workers see you on the forklift; can they hear you….can you see them?
Here are some basic Forklift Safety Rules:
- Operate the forklift only if you've been trained for that type of forklift
- Follow speed limit and other regulations
- Drive with your load low - six or eight inches off the ground - and tilted slightly back
- Exercise extra caution when driving over duckboards and bridge plates and make sure your load is within their capacity as well
- Raise and lower your load only when you are stopped
- Stop and sound the horn at intersections
- Avoid sharp turns.
- Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle
- Wear a seat belt!
- Be sure your load is stable and secure
- When leaving the forklift, lower the forks, neutralize the controls, shut it off and set the brakes