How To Avoid Common Forklift Mishaps

As a forklift driver, you probably have had enough articles telling you how to operate your forklift. But because of the danger forklifts present, there can never be too many articles that promote safety and would help to prevent even one injury or death.

So, here we go again. There are common forklift mishaps operators make when using their lifts. They include:

Be aware of any hazards that could occur on your route.
(Courtesy: Youtube)

• Not being aware of the lift’s load capacity
• Not knowing the route.
• Driving with an unsecured load.
• Lack of communication with co-workers.
• Slipping when entering or existing a forklift
• Insufficient battery and hydraulic fluid levels
• Operating a forklift that hasn’t been inspected.
• Driving the forklift too fast.
• Not properly parking a forklift
• Misusing a forklift

Having knowledge of the load is such a major issue it has come up twice in the list of common forklift mishaps. As a forklift driver you understand why knowledge of your load is something that is essential. It ensures the safe operation of the lift.

No doubt you probably already know that carrying a load that is too heavy is a forklift mishap just waiting to happen. You are probably taught in your initial training sessions and during infrequent re-training that it is essential for you to know your forklift’s capacity before you operate it. The capacity of the forklift you drive is on the data plate of the lift. In fact, the plate includes all of the relevant information you’ll need on the forklift you’re operating. If you have forgotten or are confused about this issue because you’ve been operating various forklifts with different parameters, then make a habit of inspecting the data plate of each and every forklift you drive before you drive it. The manufacturer of the lift provided all the information on the plate. So you can feel secure that it’s correct. However, people have been known to alter or obscure the information on the plate. If the data you see doesn’t seem right to you, tell the fleet manager.

Properly securing the load of a forklift depends on the items that are being carried. For example, a pallet is flat. So it is easy to secure. But a load comprising of odd or unsymmetrical shapes can present problems. It is important to take caution when carrying products that could topple from the lift or adversely influence its maneuverability.

Not knowing the route is something that would probably occur with a new forklift driver or a driver who is unfamiliar with his surroundings. Moving through a warehouse that has a complex layout or a dynamic amount of activity can result in forklift mishaps accidents if you’re not familiar with the route. Walk through the warehouse to familiarize yourself with the route you’ll be driving. Look for obstacles, narrow passages or areas where there is movement that could obstruct your progress. Being familiar with the route before you drive it is a sure fire way to prevent accidents.

As you drive your forklift take extra care not to go too fast. Moving at speeds that is improper for the vehicle and the environment can result in accidents that could involve injuries and even deaths. Pay attention to speed limits and speed bumps. If you are driving a forklift equipped with a telematics system, then the speed may be limited automatically.

Communication between you and other forklift operators as well as pedestrians should be a concern for you when driving your lift. There are people who are concentrating on performing their assigned task just like you and may not be very aware of things that are happening around them. It is in situations like this that good communication between you and your co-workers can prevent forklift mishaps.

You don’t have to be in motion to get involved in an accident. Falling as you enter or exit your forklift can also cause injuries. Don’t take what seems to be an easy maneuver fore granted. Take care when boarding or departing your lift.

Maintenance issues with your forklift can also present problems that could result in injury or downtime for your lift. For example, inadequate battery and hydraulic fluid levels or a badly charged battery can prevent you from finishing your tasks. And stopping the lift could cause problems. Consult the forklift user manual and take precautions and check for battery problems and hydraulic fluid levels before starting your job each day.

No doubt the warehouse where you work has a procedure for inspecting forklifts to ensure they are safe. Operating a forklift that has not been inspected could lead to problems. Warehouse and fleet managers are required to inspect forklifts to make certain that they comply with OSHA and other standards. If you believe that your forklift needs to be inspected, notify the fleet manager.

When your shift comes to an end, be sure to park your forklift in an authorized area only. Make certain that you lower the fork to the floor, set the direction controls to neutral, apply the parking brake, and turn off the ignition.

If you are in the middle of a scheduled downtime, there may be a temptation to go off and drive the lift in a reckless manner. Don’t give in to the temptation. Forklifts are used for specific purposes. If used otherwise it could lead to accidents, injuries and possibly deaths.


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