With more than one million forklifts in operation across the United States, these vehicles can present dangers to both operators and pedestrians alike. Although very efficient when moving large loads, they can be the culprit of serious injuries when used unsafely. In fact, OSHA reports that over 110,000 forklift accidents occur each year in the United States, costing businesses approximately 135 million dollars. Despite companies’ best modernization efforts, forklifts still cause numerous hazards.
- Unsecured loads can fall, crushing pedestrians or driver
- Vehicles can tip over due to excessive speed or imbalanced loads
- Workers can fall if standing on the forks
- Drivers may not see pedestrians, which can lead to collisions and fatal accidents
- Improper or missing floor markings can lead to accidents between pedestrians and forklifts
Implementing the following forklift safety strategy will help keep your employees safe from danger, which is, of course, a high priority.
Train All Drivers Per OSHA Requirements.
Implementing a rigid training program for forklift safety can prevent accidents and fatalities. Nearly 70 percent of accidents were preventable, if companies provided proper training for their operators. Training also ensures the least amount of citations.
- Operators must know how to operate the forklift safely determined by workplace evaluations.
- Employers must certify that operators have received the required training and must evaluate each quarterly.
- Employers must evaluate each operator’s performance to ensure the worker is competent to operate a powered industrial truck before its operation.
- Employers must provide formal and practical training (lectures, videos, written material, demonstrations, and practicum, or software training).
- Each training program must include general principles of safety, vehicle types, potential hazards, and OSHA requirements.
Maintain Routine Operator Precautionary Measures
Each day, preventative measures must be performed, adding another level of protection for operators. Perform a daily inspection of forklifts
- Test brakes, horn, lights, and steering wheel
- Check tires and oil levels
- Check for leaks of water, radiator, or oil
- Make sure forks are straight and not cracked
- See if there are any obstructions, overhead obstacles or uneven surfaces
Enforce Operational Safety
While using a forklift, workers should follow these safety measures to protect themselves and their coworkers.
- Make sure the load is balanced and secure to avoid tip-overs
- Always keep eyes forward, if a load blocks worker view, travel in reverse
- Keep each load as low as possible while driving
- Be aware of any signs, floor markings or warnings for pedestrians and forklifts
- Use the horn at intersections or well-traveled areas
- Conform to speed limits
- Make sure both forks are under the load before lifting
- Keep out of forklift-restricted areas
Incorporating these measures may incur initial costs to the company, but it will save you in the long run. More importantly, it will protect your workers from injury and may even save a life.
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