5 Forklift Distractions that Can Have Fatal Consequences

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Driving a forklift requires the operator’s undivided attention. When thousands of pounds of steel are careening down an aisle carrying pallets that can often obstruct the driver’s vision, even a momentary lapse of focus can have tragic consequences.

The dark downside of recent technological advances is that distracted driving is more of a problem than ever. While there has been a growing social stigma against drinking and driving over the past 40 years, texting while driving is more widely tolerated.

Yet it can be just as dangerous. In 2012, there were 10,322 people killed in alcohol-related crashes, compared to 3,328 who died in accidents involving a distracted driver. But as more and more young people start driving and smartphones offer more and more compelling content, many predict these two figures may become closer.

Forklift Safety — Texting While Driving

Young people are joining the ranks of forklift operators. So texting or looking at smartphones while operating a lift truck is becoming a more common workplace risk. When drivers are answering phones, texting messages, or even streaming their favorite TV shows or movies while driving, they are putting themselves and their co-workers at risk.

But texting isn’t the only distraction for forklift drivers. Listening to music or podcasts through headphones while driving effectively shuts operators off from their environment, making it difficult or even impossible to hear oncoming vehicles, warning sirens, horns, or the shouts of pedestrians.

Other Distractions from Forklift Driving

Eating and drinking while in the cab of the forklift is another common distraction. Many drivers think that taking a sip of soda eating a sandwich or chips while driving is no big deal, but what happens if a pedestrian comes out of nowhere? Or if the cup of hot coffee they are drinking spills on their lap when their vehicle comes to a sudden stop.

Outside things aren’t the only distractions. Even thoughts can prevent drivers from paying attention to what they are doing.

Rehashing an argument they had with their spouse or wondering how they are going to afford their children’s tuition and other worries can prevent drivers from being aware of other vehicles, people, and property.

How to Prevent Driver Distractions

The best way to prevent forklift caused by distracted driving is to create a culture of safety among your workers. Prohibit the use of smartphones, MP3 players, eating and drinking, and other dangerous distractions from the cab of all forklifts.

Encourage drivers to “leave their worries at the door” while they are on the job so they can focus on safety. Install safety equipment like guard rails, motion sensor detectors, and dedicated lanes for both pedestrians and forklifts.

Driving a forklift requires all of the operator’s attention. Prevent accidents by removing as many driver distractions as possible.

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