Forklift Safety Guide

Our good friend Erin Warbrook has written up her top tips for safe operation of forklifts. This is a very important subject and we are delighted to add her advice on safety using these machines.

Forklifts are found in almost every warehouse and industrial setting yet most workers don’t know how to use them safely. The result is unnecessary injuries on the job caused by poor training and lack of forklift safety. Proper forklift operation can make every environment that a forklift is used in safer, but the opposite is also true. That’s why it should make sense to try and operate forklifts as safely as possible.

Improper Forklift Operating is Hazardous

 Before looking at what needs to be done to operate a forklift safety, it helps to understand the risk involved with forklifts.

 For a start drivers and workers in the area around the forklift both share risks if the equipment is handled improperly. For example workers can be run over or crushed by the equipment. Poorly balanced or unsecured loads can fall from the forks and cause injury or even death to the person that the load lands on. Both workers and drivers are at risk of exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning or lack of oxygen when a forklift is operated in a confined area without proper ventilation.

It should be noted that there are even more risks to forklifts. For operators and workers who have created “solutions” to challenges in the workplace by using the forklift as a makeshift platform, there’s the risk of falling off. A driver that is inattentive can hit power lines and that can result in a number of harmful and life threatening injuries.

 Proper and Safe Use of Forklifts

 Here are my top tips to safely operating a forklift. There are a number of conditions that must hold true in order for a forklift to be safely operated.

  1. The forklift operator should be trained in proper forklift operating procedures. This will keep not only the driver safe, but the workplace property, the forklift itself and the people around the machine safe as well.
  2. Whenever possible, keep people away from the forklift. This reduces the chance of injury significantly if there are no people to be injured in the immediate vicinity.
  3. When the surrounding people cannot be separated from the forklift while it is in operation, make sure that the people around it are aware the machine is in operation. It is a thousand times easier for an aware person to move out-of-the-way of a forklift while it is in operation than for a forklift operator to keep track of every person in the immediate vicinity while coping for blind spots.
  4. Maintain zones for loading and unloading of cargo and equipment. This will help to ensure that no one is hurt by the forklift while it is in motion.
  5.  When the forks of the forklift are to be used, make sure that the proper attachments are in use to suit the load. Taking the time to properly secure cargo can mean the difference between it staying put and falling off. It can also be the difference between life and death.
  6. It is important to only use the forklift for what it was designed for. That means to not use it as an elevated platform for work, removing trees or any other ideas that do not fall within the operator’s manual. Using the forklift for anything other than what it’s designed for constitutes an inherent risk for everyone involved.
  7. Good operator driving means following safe operating procedures. One key safety habit is to carry the loads as far down close to the ground as possible to minimize the risks in case a load does fall off and to maximize the operator’s field of vision.
  8. Regularly maintained equipment will reward you. The forklift should be inspected each time before it is operated. Make sure nothing is missing, no part of the equipment is damaged and that all safety lights are fully functioning.
  9. There is no excuse for speeding – no deadline is worth it. Train all operators in safe work speeds and how to assess inclines and load handling.
  10.  The last thing concerning forklift safety is to make sure that there’s some sort of plan in place to manage traffic for the forklift. Make sure that everyone involved with the forklift operation is aware of any hazards to the forklift, including those that are seen and unseen. Make sure to go over the risks and how they can be minimized. Then, as a team, review the plan a few times to make sure that everyone understands it.

 And here is a last piece of advice – make sure all maintenance records are well maintained and reviewed often to prevent wear related malfunctions. After all, forklift safety is not only the responsibility of the driver; it’s the responsibility of everyone in the workplace.

United Equipment have quality parts to keep your forklift in great condition.

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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