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Editor’s Note: This is the second in a special three-part, week-long series highlighting forklift safety in the workplace.
A few years ago, the owner of a company that made training videos for machinery and equipment companies was shooting a forklift safety instructional film. During the filming, he was thrown from the forklift and crushed to death.
The incident reveals that nobody is safe from the dangers of forklifts. These vehicles are enormously powerful pieces of machinery that weigh several tons.
But following forklift safety rules can reduce the risk of a forklift accident in your workplace.
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:
- Take Workplace Conditions into Account — Forklift operators should always pay attention to workplace conditions and follow any work site safety rules and guidelines. Operators should only drive their vehicles within the designated roadways or right of way areas. They should observe all signs, especially those regarding maximum permitted floor loads and clearance heights.Drivers should also pay attention to the height of their loads, mast and overhead guards whenever they are entering or exiting through a doorway. Special care must be taken when operating the vehicle near the edge of a loading dock or ramp because the forklift can fall over the edge. Always keep a safe distance from the edge.Don’t operate the forklift on bridge plates unless you are certain they are graded to support the weight of both the forklift and the load.
- Operating at Safe Speeds — Forklifts should always be driven at or below the authorized speed limits within designated areas. When turning corners, drivers should reduce the speed of their vehicles in order to minimize risk of tipping. Any changes in direction — such as forwarding and backing up — should be done gradually and slowly.Remember, safety is the most important measurement of success in the workplace.
- Avoiding Hazards — Operators should steer clear of bumps or uneven ground, especially in slippery conditions such as ice or snow. Drivers also need to avoid loose ground objects that could cause the loss of control of their vehicle or that could cause their loads to shift.Use the horn when approaching corners, blind intersections, doorways, entrances or when you are near pedestrians or other forklift operators in order to avoid collisions.Keep a safe distance from other vehicles — including other forklifts and trucks — so that you can anticipate if they are going to move in an unpredictable manner. You also want to make sure that you always give yourself enough time to stop safely, especially if you are carrying a heavy load that could cause your forward or backward momentum to be greater than if you were carrying no load at all.