A Checklist Of Common Workplace Safety Hazards While Using Forklifts

Any experienced operations manager has to understand that a busy warehouse has potential hazards. Forklift accidents are among the most common causes of workplace injuries. Accidents like forklift tip-overs are the leading causes of loss of lives in designated areas for handling materials. You need to take steps today to avoid such accidents from happening in your workplace.

Here’s a checklist of potential safety hazards to keep in mind

Adequate training

Forklift operators are tasked with the responsibility of moving bulky loads using forklifts. These usually work in warehouses, distribution centers, and construction sites. In fact, the progress of such projects relies on the work of the forklift operator. However, all forklift operators have to receive professional training and certification.

Adequate training allows getting certification for safe driving and avoiding injuries. Your business will benefit from having certified forklift operators in the following ways:

  • Safer workplace
  • Limited property and equipment damage
  • Less downtime
  • Boosting employee morale
  • Low insurance rates
  • Less risk of lawsuits

Forklift design features

The forklift’s design features can become a potential safety hazard. A forklift has three main parts including the overhead guard, body, and hydraulic lift. The presence of obstructions or blind spots that block the driver’s view increases the risk of accidents. Additionally, the layout of the truck displays and controls can also become a safety hazard.

If your forklift lacks adequate safety devices like warning lights, your workplace is at a high chance of getting accidents. You should buy forklift warning lights in blue or red color to boost the safety of your workplace. As the truck moves, the blue or red beam of light in front or behind the truck allows other operators or pedestrians to give way.

Forklift mechanical conditions

Another consideration that can become a potential safety hazard is the mechanical condition of the truck. It is very important to ensure that your truck has brakes, steering wheel, mast assembly, clutch, and shift linkage functioning well. Additionally, you have to fix issues such as leaks in the transmission or hydraulic system.

A forklift in poor mechanical condition is not safe for use and requires repair immediately. And, you have to call a certified forklift mechanic to do maintenance and repair. Operators have to inspect the truck before each shift for safety and operating issues. Always stick to the maintenance schedule recommended by the manufacturer. Some of the problems to look out for while using the truck include:

  • Fire
  • Overheating
  • Leakage
  • Mechanical breakdown

Inadequate operator behaviors

Another factor likely to cause accidents in your workplace is the behavior of your operators. Ensure to have a speed limit to avoid excessive speeding. Additionally, riding the truck while the load is elevated is very risky. Equally important is to use proper backing, braking, turning and accelerating techniques. Forklift operators should properly warn others about their presence using appropriate communication channels.

Investing in signage to indicate restricted areas is very important. This allows operators to know the location of narrow passages. Operators should give rides or ride on the load or forklift. Properly parking and adequate service are crucial in preventing injuries and loss of lives in the workplace.

Workplace design

Sometimes, the design of your workplace can become a safety hazard. Perhaps your aisles are crowded, narrow, and cluttered. Additionally, your shelving might have components that intrude into the operating space. Other times, the presence of obstructions at the doors and intersections is a great idea.

The volume of traffic in your work area also determines the occurrence of accidents. Heavy traffic causes confusion and some people might fail to recognize an oncoming truck.   Pedestrians should avoid getting into the forklift’s work area. Other workplace design features likely to cause accidents include:

  • Odors
  • Dust
  • Poor lighting
  • Toxic gasses
  • Noise

Load characteristics

The nature of the load can create a safety hazard in your workplace. It is important to ensure proper stacking or piling of goods on the pallet to avoid unstable load. Misshapen load is likely to fall off the truck when not secure properly with the potential to cause injuries and damage. Operators should not carry heavy loads while the fork is too high to avoid tipping over.

Operators have to pay close attention to detail while working around the loading dock. Equally important is to stick to the maximum load capacity of the truck. Additionally, pallets in poor condition need repair or replacement. Securing the load is also very important and it should not block the operator’s vision.

Operation managers have an important role to ensure a safe working environment. Forklifts are the most significant cause of injuries and deaths in the workplace. So, having the checklist of potential forklift safety hazards above will give you a headstart on how to guarantee a safe workplace.


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