Forklift Safety: Best Practices for Operators and Employers

A forklift, also known as a powered industrial truck, is a piece of equipment commonly used to move large items such as rocks or smaller items stacked on pallets or crates. There are many different types of forklifts. Some accept additional attachments to improve productivity, but in all cases, safety must come first. 

In this article, we will look at the best safety practices for using forklifts in the workplace and why adhering to safety protocols is so important for operators and employers. 

Forklift Training

Safety is a big issue, particularly in the construction industry where 4,764 people lost their lives in 2020. Forklift injuries accounted for 70 deaths in 2021 and 7,290 days lost because of injuries. 

The OSHA has very clear guidelines in place that state all forklift operators must be suitably trained. While online training is appropriate in some areas, forklift operation is not one of them. The OSHA requires that forklift operators receive a mix of formal instruction and practical demonstrations by a certified trainer. 

Training can include some online instruction, but it is commonly a mixture of different training methods. For example, an operator might spend a day in the classroom listening to lectures and watching presentations. 

Nothing beats practical instruction, which is where demonstrations of how a forklift works are essential. A certified trainer can show operators how to use a forklift, after which the trainee can perform various exercises under supervision. It is the best way to teach practical skills, such as how to use a parking brake, lift awkward items, or fit Rightline attachments.

The OSHA offers different forklift training courses aimed at operators, supervisors, and management. It’s important to choose the correct type of training for your business needs. 

Understand the Main Hazards when Using Forklifts

Most forklift accidents are caused by operator error, which in turn is caused by inadequate training. If a forklift is incorrectly loaded, it may tip over or shed its load. This could cause a potentially fatal injury to a pedestrian or the forklift driver. When forklifts are driven at excessive speeds, accidents will occur. In addition, if floors are not marked correctly, the forklift operator may come into contact with another vehicle. Finally, if workers are not taught about the dangers of operating forklifts, they won’t take sufficient care when working around them. A good example of this is if a worker stands on the forks to reach something placed at a height and then falls. 

Forklift Maintenance

Training is an important part of keeping forklift operators safe, but businesses can’t afford to ignore the maintenance side of things. Businesses are expected to carry out daily checks of all equipment, so problems are spotted before they cause an accident. The OSHA provides a useful checklist for operators. Checks include examining tires, oil levels, lights, and ensuring forks are straight. 

It is also important to implement a regular maintenance schedule, where forklifts are inspected, and routine maintenance tasks are carried out. This helps ensure the workplace remains as safe as possible at all times. 

Forklifts are very useful in the workplace, but only if training is provided and maintenance is carried out. 

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