OSHA estimates that there are 110,000 forklift accidents every year – and those accidents cost businesses about $135,000,000 every year. If you use forklifts in your facility, it’s important to ensure that they’re operated and maintained safely.
Here’s a quick checklist of forklift safety tips to keep in mind before, during, and after forklift use that can help keep your employees safe.
The best solution to accidents is to prevent them entirely. By following these forklift safety tips, many potentially deadly accidents can be stopped.
1. Get Training
OSHA requires that all employers provide certified onsite specific forklift training for all operators. Make sure all your employees who use the forklifts have received forklift training on how to use the machinery properly.
2. Install Rack Safety Products
Installing products like Rack Safety Straps to the back of pallet racks will act as a safety barrier to keep items from pushing through into the flue space or onto a work area when loading them from the forklift.
Inspect the forklift before use for any signs of damage or problems. Contact the supervisor immediately if there are any issues with the machine.
4. Clear Your Path
Ensure that the area around the forklift is clear and safe for both the operator of the forklift and other employees.
5. Check Loads
Ensure that loads are secured, evenly distributed, and do not exceed the equipment’s weight capacity.
6. Mount Safely
Make sure hands and shoes are dry and won’t slip when attempting to climb into the forklift cab.
The most obvious forklift-related hazards can occur during use. But just because the dangers are clearer doesn’t mean they’re always prevented.
7. Wear Seatbelts
Always wear a seatbelt while operating a forklift. If the forklift tips, you will want to be secure!
8. Avoid Hazards
Never run over objects or other hazards like holes or cables and watch for slippery floors. Even if they are small, hazards could cause the load to become unbalanced or the driver to lose control of the forklift.
9. Use Help
In narrow spaces or areas where your visibility is obscured, ask for help to operate the forklift safely. Using predetermined hand signals with your helper can make maneuvering the forklift in a dangerous area much safer.
10. Keep Speed Low
Especially when turning or carrying awkwardly-shaped loads, it’s important to drive slowly and carefully. Forklifts can tip even at slow speeds, so always be extra cautious when changing direction or stopping.
11. Avoid Pedestrians
Never assume that pedestrians know where you’re going in the forklift. Use a horn or warning light to let pedestrians know when the forklift is reversing or changing direction. However, don’t assume that people always hear the alarm, especially in a loud work environment. You’re responsible for keeping a low, safe speed, using your lights and alarm, turning carefully, and avoiding pedestrians.
After the load has been successfully transported, there are still steps to take to keep your employees safe from forklift accidents.
12. Park Properly
Always park in an authorized area. Fully lower forks to the floor, apply the parking brake, and remove the key.
13. Turn Off
Power off all equipment before recharging or refueling the forklift.
14. Inspect Again
Before you leave the forklift, do another check to ensure that the machinery hasn’t been damaged or other problems haven’t occurred. If they have, let your supervisor know.
Proper forklift use in your facility can save your company money, prevent product loss, and, most importantly, keep your employees safe.
Guidelines on how to use forklifts make a great part of your safety plan. For more tips on creating your own safety plan, download our Warehouse Pallet Rack Safety Checklist.