Forklift safety is no joke—there are multitudes of OSHA standards and regulations for safe forklift operation that involves things like loading and unloading, working with hazardous materials, and forklift maintenance. This is for good reason—across the country, forklifts account for about 100 deaths and nearly 35,000 serious injuries each year. According to OSHA, if companies implemented more rigorous training policies, approximately 70% of forklift accidents could be prevented entirely. The first step toward safer forklift operation is knowing the most common forklift mistakes. You’ll find a brief overview below, but please be aware that this is nowhere near an exhaustive guide and isn’t a substitute for operation or safety courses.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has said that the three most common types of forklift mistakes occur when:
- A forklift overturns and crushes or pins a worker
- A worker is struck by a high-speed or careless forklift operator
- A worker falls from an aerial forklift platform
Hazard identification and risk assessment for forklifts is critical for safe forklift operation. Forklifts are unlike many other vehicles and cars in a variety of ways, some of which make them much more of a workplace hazard. For example, they can weigh up to 9,000 pounds—which is three times heavier than many cars. This can make situations in which forklifts overturn much more serious. The risk of overturns, falls, and strikes is compounded by the fact that forklifts can be difficult to operate in certain situations. Because most models have brakes in the front, they can be harder to stop than other vehicles. The weight distribution is also focused on the back end to compensate for the heavy loads being lifted in the front. Usually it is the rear wheels that turn the forklift. This can cause the rear end to swing outward during tight turns, increasing the risk of tipping over. Plus, loads are carried in the front of the forklift, which can block the operator’s forward vision. And, of course, raising heavy loads high in the air can always be dangerous.
Safe forklift operation requires an understanding of these and other potential pitfalls so that overturns, falls, and strikes can be avoided. First Quality Forklift’s operator certification training programs offer intensive instruction that will give you and/or your employees the knowledge you need to stay safe.