In today’s fast paced industrial warehouse environments, with complex machinery, traffic, and the constant goal to maximise productivity, the risk of injury and accidents can be great.
Unfortunately, there are many things that can go wrong when operating a forklift truck in any workplace. Forklift accidents can become more common, especially when there’s a lack of adequate planning and training programs. A failure to maintain the machines, coupled with careless operators and improper tools and attachments can all potentially lead to serious injury.
By having the right safety measure in place, forklift accidents such as tip-overs, and pedestrian collisions can be avoided. We wanted to go through how to prevent forklift accidents by following a few simple steps…
Protecting pedestrians and workers
It’s important to remember that forklift operators are responsible for looking out for and avoiding pedestrians, as they always have the right of way. Not matter how experienced the forklift truck operator is, a lack of awareness from the pedestrians and workers, combined with poor visibility and other factors can still result in a bad accident.
Operators should always be looking in the direction the forklift is moving and make themselves known at blind spots. They need to always assume that workers and pedestrians are not paying attention, even when markings and warning signs are used in the workplace. Keep non-operators away from the forklift, even when it’s stationary, and do not let people walk beneath raised forks at any time.
Things like blue safety lights, safety mirrors on aisle corners, better lighting, bright coloured guardrails and barriers, and other approved safety products can all make the forklift accidents a rarity.
Take steps to tackle truck tip-overs
Tip-overs are the most common accident for forklifts and can often result in serious injury or even be fatal. It’s hugely important that any operators are always fully trained on how to avoid a tip-over accident with a forklift, and also on how to avoid injury or death should a tip-over occur.
When this type of accident occurs the forklift operator will be tempted to try and jump from the truck, however this is the action that can often lead to injuries. Often through instinct the operator will jump the wrong way and the forklift, which can weigh several tons, can land on them and break bones or worse.
The best ways to prevent a tip-over and minimise injury include:
- Slowing down the forklift whenever turning a corner and maintaining the reduced speed throughout the turn.
- Lowering the forks and tilting them back for better stability when carrying a load.
- Never overloading the truck and removing unstable loads.
- Using a seatbelt as this will prevent the operator from being thrown from the forklift.
- Staying in the seat, grasping the wheel, bracing feet and leaning away from the point of impact.
- Avoiding wet and slippery surfaces, or slowing down significantly when driving over them.
Make sure all operators are professionally trained
It sounds obvious but forklift accidents often occur because the operators lack the correct certification and training to actually operate the trucks properly. Forklifts have the potential to be extremely dangerous machines when operated incorrectly, but with proper training in place many accidents will be prevented.
Training should always include, formal instructions, demonstrations, exercises, and an evaluation of the employee operating the forklift at the workplace. Even after operators have completed formal training, their performance should always be regularly monitored to make sure any forklifts are being used safely, especially when they start to use new models as this will require recertification.