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General articles on forklift safety fill the pages of more forklift-related websites. However, accidents continue to happen. For example:
• An Iowa truck driver who had just delivered light poles to a high school football field in California was watching as a worker was unloading the poles from the truck with a forklift. The load shifted and the pole fell, striking the truck driver in the stomach.
• A forklift driver in California walked around to the rear of his lift and was crushed against it by another forklift that was backing up.
• A forklift driver in California left the lift’s cab and walked to the front of the lift and a raised load of carrots fell on top of him.
These accidents could have been prevented by a little thought and observation.
All sorts of activity from unauthorized drivers to hazardous driving habits can cause fatal accidents involving forklift drivers and workers. Some tips to prevent such occurrences follow.
1. Forklift drivers should be authorized. It is essential that operators be trained on specifics of forklift operation. Training should take place in the environment in which the driver will be expected to work and he should be operating the same type of forklift he is expected to drive during the training process. This way the driver is familiar with the area in which he will be working as well as the lift he will be driving. Make sure that employees know that only authorized drivers can operate forklifts. A guy with no idea how to drive a lift may jump into one and try and move it thinking that he was just helping out. And an accident could result. Inform all workers who are under the age of 18 that it is illegal for them to operate a forklift.
2. The forklift is itself a possible hazard, but so is the load that the lift is carrying. Make certain the forklift operators learn how to stack and secure a load to ensure that it doesn’t shift when the lift is in motion. The driver should be carrying the load as close to the ground as possible.
3. All workers in an area traversed by forklifts should understand never to stand near a raised load.
4. Make sure that operators use the proper forklift for the task. Forklifts are designed for certain conditions. For example, they are designed for indoor or outdoor or in some circumstances both. They are designed for rough terrain or smooth surfaces, etc.
5. A forklift operator should be very familiar with the territory in which he is driving. An operator needs to know how to guide the lift up and down slopes, around corners whether they are carrying a load or not. If a forklift operator works outdoors, then he should know how to drive in particular weather conditions from rain to snow.
6. A forklift operator should always have full visibility of the area in which he is driving. Signs should mark hazardous driving areas including the edge of a loading dock or other area where a forklift could roll off. Guardrails should be used to block off drop points to assure that forklift drivers avoid them. Make certain that employees understand not to stack objects at corners that could become an obstruction for a forklift driver. Use mirrors placed in strategic locations throughout the warehouse that permits lift drivers and workers to look around corners to avoid accidents.
(Source: Daily Advisor)