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Safety tips to prevent forklift accidents

While readily used to move and lift heavy objects and loads in warehouses and at loading docks across the country, the utility of forklifts is undeniable. Forklifts also, however, pose numerous and very real safety dangers to those workers who both operate and work in close vicinity to these types of construction vehicles.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, annually across the U.S., an average of 34,900 people are injured and 85 killed in accidents involving forklifts. The vast majority of forklift accidents are preventable. For example, in 42 percent of fatal forklift accidents, a vehicle's operator was crushed after a forklift tipped over. To prevent this and other types of forklift accidents, workers who operate these vehicles are advised to keep the following safety tips in mind.

  • Know and abide by a forklift's load weight capacity - overloaded forklifts are prone become unsteady and tip over
  • Secure your route - operators are advised to become familiar with and ensure that a travel route is free of obstacles prior to starting a vehicle
  • Secure all loads - ensure that boxes are properly and securely stacked and that any oddly shaped loads are secured using safety straps
  • Establish and execute a communications plan - forklift operators should ensure that other workers within an area or facility are aware of designated travel routes and that such routes are well marked
  • Drive cautiously - don't speed or spin around in a forklift too quickly
  • Upkeep and maintenance - ensure that a forklift is regularly inspected and maintained to avoid possible equipment failures or malfunctions
  • Pay attention to where you stop and park - when not in use, a forklift should be parked in a flat designated parking area with the fork on the floor, the ignition off and keys removed

Source: EHS Today, "10 Forklift Fouls and How To Avoid Them," March 4, 2016

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