Forklift Safety Measures for Accident Avoidance

Forklifts are the workhorse of most construction sites, but they can become a dangerous piece of machinery if workers are inexperienced or untrained.  Workers who operate or work near forklifts may be struck or crushed by the machine or the load being handled.

Most fatalities occur when a worker is crushed by a forklift that has overturned or fallen from a loading dock. NIOSH investigations of forklift-related deaths indicate that many workers and employers may not be aware of the risks of operating or working near forklifts and are not following the procedures set forth in the OSHA standards or equipment manufacturer’s guidelines.

Recently OSHA cited a hardware merchant wholesaler for exposing employees to struck-by hazards after an employee was injured while operating a forklift at a distribution center in Atlanta, Georgia. The Plano, Texas-based company faces penalties of $164,802.

The inspectors determined that the company failed to provide forklift operator training and instructions to employees operating the vehicles, and ensure that employees performed daily forklift inspections.

Basic safety measures include being aware of the following:

  • Off-center loads which may cause tipover or falling loads.
  • Overloading which may cause tipover or falling loads.
  • Damaged or loose loads.

Workers should also be trained to follow the basic safety precautions, including:

  • Do not jump from an overturning, sit-down type forklift. Stay with the truck, holding on firmly and leaning in the opposite direction of the overturn.
  • Exit from a stand-up type forklift with rear-entry access by stepping backward if a lateral tip over occurs.
  • Use extreme caution on grades or ramps.
  • On grades, tilt the load back and raise it only as far as needed to clear the road surface.
  • Do not raise or lower the forks while the forklift is moving.
  • Do not handle loads that are heavier than the weight capacity of the forklift.
  • Operate the forklift at a speed that will permit it to be stopped safely.
  • Slow down and sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed.
  • Do not allow passengers to ride on forklift trucks unless a seat is provided.
  • When dismounting from a forklift, set the parking brake, lower the forks or lifting carriage, and neutralize the controls.
  • Use a restraining means such as rails, chains, or a body belt with a lanyard or deceleration device for the worker(s) on the platform.
  • Do not drive to another location with the work platform elevated.

As always, precaution and training are the best insurance against injury and accidents. For more information, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.

 

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Nina McGinley

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