When you talk about forklift accidents, people always think of forklifts tipping over. It’s true they can tip over without following proper safety guidelines, and there are also other hazards when using a forklift that get less attention, including crashes, pedestrian injuries and more. Proper forklift operation is key to avoiding serious accidents.
Luckily, with a few safety tips, all of these potential accidents are easy to avoid.
Here is a forklift safety checklist full of tips to follow when operating an industrial lift truck.
Do A Pre-Op Inspection — Before operating a forklift, ensure everything is in proper working order, including the brakes, horn, lights, battery, steering, forks and fluid levels.
Avoid Pedestrians — Do not allow anyone near or under the forklift when carrying a load, even when stopped.
Use Your Horn — Sound your horn at intersections, blind corners and whenever you are unsure.
Watch Where You’re Going — Visibility is sometimes hindered by the load you’re carrying when operating a forklift. In these cases, it is safest to travel backwards or have a spotter help guide you safely to your destination.
Drive Slowly — Haste makes hazard! Drive slowly and cautiously, especially around turns (to avoid tipping over) and through intersections.
Check Capacities — Never overload the truck or carry unstable loads!
Stabilize Your Load — Keep your loads low and masts vertical or slightly tilted back just enough to stabilize the load. Raising a load too high or tilting the load too far forward or backward shifts the center of gravity and can put the forklift in danger of tipping over.
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings — Check your overhead clearance, and watch out for hanging lines, doorways and other overhead clearance issues along your route. Also, be wary of soft shoulders and curbs, which can cause the forklift to tip.
Use Platform Safety — When using a moving platform, test the functionality of the platform alone before allowing personnel on it. Never allow anyone to use the truck as a ladder or ride on the moving platform while the truck is moving. Never leave the truck unattended while platform is raised.
Turn Slowly — Forklift turns are so important, even in an empty truck. Turn at a slow speed, and turn the steering wheel slowly to gradually ease into and out of turns. Keep in mind, the truck is rear weighted to balance out heavy loads and also has rear steering, so a quick or sharp turn even in an empty truck can still cause a tip over.
Most of the advice above might seem like common sense, but forklift accidents do happen, and they usually happen because the operator fails to follow one or more of the safety tips from the above checklist. If you are a lift truck operator, be sure to commit these safety rules to memory, and never take a chance when it comes to forklift safety.