Forklift Safety

We get many enquiries from clients asking for help with guidelines for the safe use of forklifts. And its little wonder; a large number of injuries and deaths occur every year as a result of forklift accidents.

Forklifts are dangerous because they generally operate in confined areas, and people in the vicinity of the unit can be crushed or hit by items dislodged by the operator. Another downside is that the machine is designed in such a way that it is unstable in certain situations. This is particularly the case when the machine is used inappropriately. You should always keep foot traffic well away from the operating area of forklifts.

The advice on avoiding accidents is to first avoid mixing pedestrians with forklifts:

  • Mark out exclusion areas where no foot traffic is allowed and only for the use of forklifts
  • Look for opportunities to remove forklifts completely. Alternatives are overhead cranes or manual lift trucks
  • Erect barriers and create gates to control flow of traffic

The next step is to change the usage of the forklifts with these tips:

  • Select forklifts with capacity in excess of the expected loads to ensure operation well within tolerances
  • Install warning lights and beepers on the forklifts when in use
  • Enforce strict speed limits on forklifts and fit speed limiting devices
  • There is a lot of great safety signal and warning technology available today, go shopping
  • Provide training to all forklift operators on safe load capacity, mast height management and tilt angle safety
  • Select forklifts with inbuilt safety features like speed limiters and stability meters

Under law, forklift licences are issued under the requirement that the forklift is not used on the road and only on the premises of the workplace. That means a drivers licence is not required, only a forklift licence. But if you do take the forklift on the road the operator must have a drivers licence and that licence would need a forklift endorsement.

If you are in doubt or you would like to know about the Forklift Safety Program contact us on and we will arrange one of our network of advisors to visit and give you hands on help.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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