It pays to be safe, especially when operating machinery like a forklift. They’re one of the most commonly used pieces of equipment on worksites across a wide variety of industries, but workers simply being familiar with them doesn’t eliminate risk. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 9,124 workplace forklift injuries or illnesses in 2017, 74 of which were fatal. To help reduce these and keep your worksite safe, here are 5 of the most important forklift safety tips.
Forklift Safety Tip #1 – Become Familiar with The Different Classes of Forklift
OSHA recognizes seven different types of forklifts, each with its own structure, speed limit, weight limit, and turning radius that operators should be aware of. If you’re unsure of what kinds of forklifts there are in your workplace, you can reference the images on OSHA’s website and check the truck specifications on the nameplate of the forklift.
Forklift Safety Tip #2 – Pay Attention to the Stability
Quick turns, especially when carrying a heavy load, can easily make a forklift unstable and tip over or cause the operator to overcompensate and lose control. Thus, keeping the machine stable and maintaining the center of gravity is important. Forklifts have a three-point suspension system, called a stability triangle, that operators must stay in or else the machine can tip over.
Forklift Safety Tip #3 – Implement Speed Limits
Going too fast on a forklift can easily cause it to become unstable or the load to tip over, and dangerous accidents can happen if the operator has to quickly stop to avoid hitting something. We recommend you tell operators to drive slowly and limit how fast they can go to 10 or 15 MPH, especially in highly trafficked areas.
Forklift Safety Tip #4 – Give Operators the Best View Possible
Obviously, the load being carried will often obstruct an operator’s view, but that should be the only thing. There should be no non-essential items that inhibit their view, and forklifts should always have rear view mirrors to help boost visibility.
Forklift Safety Tip #5 – Avoid Hazardous Areas
Operators and all other staff should avoid walking under the forks and attachments, especially when the machine is carrying a load, because there’s a chance it could fall off and cause serious injury. Additionally, hands and feet should be kept clear from the mast because a moving mast could cause an injury.
We recommend you give your operators a refresher on forklift safety basics like these annually, and our training kits, videos, and other materials can help you do so. Contact us today to see how we can help make your workplace more safe!