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Editor’s Note: This is the third and final installment in a special three-part, week-long series highlighting forklift safety in the workplace.
On June 10 of last year, a 22-year-old Brooklyn man was killed last week while apparently using a walk-behind electric forklift to push a disabled riding forklift up a ramp. The incident happened to occur on the first annual National Forklift Safety Day, which is intended to raise awareness of the importance of proper operator training.
National Forklift Safety Day, which is sponsored by the Industrial Truck Association, was designed to draw attention to the safe use of forklifts and the importance of operator training. National Forklift Safety Day provides an opportunity for the industry to educate the public and policymakers on the administration of safe forklift operational practices.
Unfortunately, these lessons came a day too late for at least one forklift operator.
More Simple Rules to Ensure Forklift Safety
All this week, we are looking at ways to make sure forklifts are always operated safely in order to reduce or eliminate the number of forklift accidents in the workplace. Here are more of the most basic forklift safety rules drivers should always follow:
- Stability of the Load — Check loads carefully before moving them to ensure their stability and to prevent damage. It is critically important that loads be tilted back with the forks sitting low while loads are being moved in order to increase the vehicle’s stability.Check for any overhead objects before lifting or stacking loads and don’t lift or move loads that are not safe or stable. Drivers should verify that loads are properly stacked and positioned across both forks before raising them. Stack the load on the pallet or skid safely or correctly and use securing materials such as ropes or bindings if necessary.
- Clear Visibility — Forklifts should be operated in reverse if it improves visibility, with the exception being when driving the vehicle up ramps. It’s important to make sure the driver can always see the racking clearly in which the load is being positioned. If visibility is poor, don’t keep driving. In some instances, you may require a spotter to assist you in lifting and moving loads safely.
- What to Carry — Forklifts are for carrying loads only. Operators should not allow other people to ride on their vehicle unless it is fitted with a second seat and seat belt.If the forklift is to be used to lift a person, this should only be done with the use of a securely attached work platform and cage according to the appropriate operating instructions supplied by the manufacturer.
- Mast Safety — Never allow anybody to stand or walk below the load or forks of your vehicle. If the load should fall, it could cause injury or death.Drivers also should keep mast and feet clear of the cross members of the mast. Serious injury can occur if the mast is lowered while your hand is within the machinery.
These are only some of the safety rules that should guide forklift operators to prevent accidents. Forklift safety is something that drivers and managers should be concerned every day, not just on National Forklift Safety Day or during a week-long review of forklift safety guidelines.
Forklift safety is everybody’s business and should be a continuing concern in every workplace that uses these potentially dangerous vehicles.