Tag Archive for: forklift injuries

Forklift Safety Requirements

Forklifts are some of the most commonly used pieces of equipment on worksites and in warehouses. These powered industrial machines are used to lift and then transport loads with ease and precision. Because they are powerful devices, there is considerable risk in operating and working around forklifts. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established some specific forklift safety requirements to help reduce accidents and injuries. 

Workplace Forklift Injuries by the Numbers

Forklifts on a job site or in a warehouse can create an incredibly dangerous situation for workers. OSHA estimates that forklift accidents result in roughly 35,000 serious injuries, 62,000 non-serious injuries, and 90 fatalities annually. Even more disturbing is that about a quarter of these accidents are the result of inadequate training, highlighting the importance of making forklift safety a priority in the workplace. 

Essential Tips for Forklift Safety and Accident Prevention

There are more than a million forklifts in operation in the U.S. alone. An injury involving a forklift can be life-altering for the worker and their loved ones. To protect workers, OSHA has established forklift safety requirements, which can be found in 29 CFR 1910.178. 

OSHA requires that employers provide forklift training to workers that includes information on vehicle types, general operation instructions, and various safety requirements. Through a combination of practical and formal training, workers are expected to learn about forklift safety before operating or being around these machines. And, they must receive recertification in forklift operation at least every three years. Here are some of the most essential tips for forklift safety.

1. Get Forklift Certification

Since many accidents are due to poor or no training, it’s vital that employees operating forklifts or working around them get proper training and licensing. 

2. Understand the Forklift Classes

OSHA recognizes different types or classifications of forklifts. Each type has its own weight limit, structure, usage, turning radius, and traveling speed. So it’s essential to understand these differences to follow proper safety procedures. 

3. Wear Proper Clothing

Forklift operators should be dressed appropriately to avoid clothing getting caught in equipment or other injuries from excessive heat and falling objects. Some necessary items include a hard hat, safety shoes, and high visibility vest or jacket. 

4. Inspect the Equipment Daily

Forklifts should be inspected before each daily use. Some of the recommended checks include a test of all controls, examining tires, inspecting forks for damage, and checking fluids for any leaks. 

5. Establish a Floor Marking System

A floor marking system that includes directional arrows, hazard markings, and safety items like emergency switches can lead forklifts along the right path and keep pedestrians safe. 

6. Maintain 360-Degree Visibility

OSHA has established best practices for operation to provide machinery operators with better forward visibility. These include always looking in the direction of travel, using rear-view mirrors, and making eye contact with others in the area.

7. Avoid Exceeding Equipment Capacity

Every forklift has a maximum capacity. Operators should never exceed the counterweight of the equipment. 

8. Watch Forklift Stability

Every forklift has a center of gravity that it shares with the load it is transporting. Forklift operators must understand the “stability triangle” to prevent the machinery from tipping over. 

9. Know About Load Basics

OSHA advises operators to inspect loads before picking them up with a forklift to ensure they are safe for transport. Make sure the load is centered and secure before lifting the forks. 

10. Never Carry Extra People

Workers should never hitch a ride on a forklift or use a forklift as a lift. These are dangerous practices. 

11. Maintain an Appropriate Speed

Always drive the forklift at safe speeds and avoid abrupt turns or direction changes that could lead to tipping. Never travel with reach out or turn with forks elevated. 

12. Avoid Hazards Around the Area

Avoid standing or walking under a forklift attachment or load, either of which could fall and cause serious injury. 

13. Keep a Safe Distance

Always remain mindful of the surrounding area when operating a forklift. Keep a safe enough distance that there is room to turn, stop, and get out of the way of other machinery. 

14. Park the Equipment Properly

Be sure to park the forklift in a safe and designated place at the end of a shift to avoid blocking pathways. Apply the parking brake and fully lower the forks to the floor for storage.

Learn More About Protecting Yourself from Workplace Forklift Accidents

Whether you work in a warehouse, in construction, or in some other industry, your employer is obligated to provide you with a safe workplace that protects you from dangerous forklift accidents and injuries. Having the appropriate training and procedures in place is essential. To learn more about protecting yourself from workplace forklift accidents, contact OSHA Injury Attorney directly.