Quick Tips for Forklift Safety at the Job Site

Quick Tips for Forklift Safety at the Job Site

Nearly 100,000 workers are injured annually by forklifts and forklift loads, according to an estimate by OSHA. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 96 US workers were fatally injured in accidents involving forklifts in 2015. And, along with the dangers to personnel, improper use of a forklift can cause damage to materials, merchandise, and machines. All of this is why following key tips for forklift safety is so important.

Where forklifts are concerned, some of the leading risks to workers include struck-by hazards from falling loads, the forks, or collisions due to driving while distracted or with poor visibility. Also, forklifts tipping due to load imbalance and/or improper maneuvering is a common problem.

These tips for forklift safety go a long way toward preventing these and other accidents.

Tips for Forklift Safety

  • Only employees trained and licensed to operate the forklift should do so
  • Don’t ever use a forklift with damage, malfunctioning controls or safety features, or other problems
  • Operators should be familiar with the forklift’s owner’s manual
  • Refer to the manual for operation, cleaning, maintenance, and other instructions
  • Maintenance and repairs should only be performed by qualified people
  • Loose clothing is a hazard around machines with moving parts
  • Enter and exit the forklift carefully using steps or handholds provided, and only when it’s off
  • Make sure controls are in reach and the seat and mirrors are properly adjusted before beginning operation
  • The operator’s hands must be dry and clean to prevent slipping or loss of control
  • Keep your arms, legs, and head inside the forklift at all times during use
  • Follow all job site rules about machine operation, and stick to designated driving paths and speed limits
  • Look in the direction of travel, but remain constantly aware of your surroundings
  • Don’t use your phone while operating the forklift
  • Honk the horn when approaching corners, doorways, or other areas where pedestrians or other equipment operators might not be able to see you coming
  • Take bends and corners slowly to prevent tipping, and avoid sudden starts, stops, and turns
  • Avoid driving over holes, bumps, materials, or debris, and exercise extra caution when driving over a wet or slippery surface
  • Keep a safe distance from other equipment in use
  • Never handle loads larger or heavier than the forklift is designed for
  • Only load and unload on a level surface
  • Check load stability before raising or lowering it
  • Never lift, lower, or travel with unstable or improperly stacked loads
  • Secure loads with rope or other bindings when called for
  • Tilt the load back and keep the forks as low as possible during travel
  • Always be aware of overhead clearance
  • Travel in reverse when the load blocks visibility (unless going up a ramp or incline) and when going down a sloped surface
  • Make sure forks are tilted back and the load is secure before reversing
  • Have a second person guide you when visibility is an issue
  • Don’t let anyone else ride on the forklift (unless there’s a second seat)
  • Forklifts are not for lifting people—ever
  • Nobody should ever be beneath the load or elevated forks
  • Never use the forks as a lever to lift a heavy object, or to push an object
  • Don’t lift a load with one fork, and make sure the load is evenly distributed over both forks
  • Use pallets and skids that are appropriate for the load, and don’t use any that are damaged

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