Forklifts play an important role in various industries and worksites.
As forklift use has increased, manufacturers have innovated their designs to improve functions and safety features. However, as with any piece of machinery, proper training and procedures must be followed to ensure a safe working environment.
Each year OSHA publishes their Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards following inspections of worksites. Since 2010, forklift-related violations have landed on the Top 10 list, with a lack of operator training being the most frequently cited violation. Additional studies have also shown that nearly 25% of forklift accidents are the result of inadequate training, and almost half of all forklift-related deaths are due to tip-overs crushing drivers. Remember, a worksite is only as safe as the least trained employee or the least observant visitor.
Forklift safety tips
Only allow trained and certified employees to operate forklifts. The employee should retrain every three years or after an incident, whichever occurs first.
Always inspect the forklift, attachments, fuel connections, or levels before operating, and verify there is a reporting procedure to notify management of issues found.
Make sure seatbelts, horns, lights, and other safety features are in place and functional.
Review the forklift’s weight capacity, and discuss the stability triangle and tip-overs.
Forklifts speeds should not exceed 5 mph, moving at a pace similar to walking, with loads and forks kept low.
Review or establish operating areas, identify blind spots, and discuss pedestrian exposures.