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How to Operate a Forklift Safely

Forklifts may look like tiny vehicles, but these workhorses of industry have a deceiving size—the average forklift weighs approximately 9,000 pounds! For comparison, a 2019 Ford Explorer SUV weighs about 4,901 pounds if purchased with all options. Though a fraction of the size of the average vehicle, the weight of forklifts makes them a danger in every worksite that they operate.

The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration has a set of rules and regulations designed to decrease the amount of worker death and injuries from forklifts. According to the organization, roughly 85 deaths are caused by forklifts each year. The vehicles also account for almost 35,000 workplace injuries each year. Avoid these common mistakes to protect yourself and your coworkers!

Drive Slow

Because of their compact size, forklifts feel more agile than they are. These nine-ton machines are often able to accelerate quickly and turn sharply. In a work environment, these qualities make forklifts a constant hazard. These machines are designed to turn while carrying a heavy load. If a driver takes a corner too quickly, in an unloaded forklift, the vehicle may tip easier. Turning around corners at a low speed is always a best practice when operating a forklift.

Receive Training

Forklifts are easy to learn how to operate. However, using them safely requires proper training. Inexperienced drivers often create problems before they are aware that they can exist. Companies must ensure that every forklift operator finishes adequate training and certification to use a forklift in the workplace. Trained forklift drivers will understand their machines limits, and will know common dangers to search for while operating their machine.

Maneuvering with an Elevated Load

Many forklift models can lift heavy loads while moving. Unfortunately, many drivers will lift an item from a high location and continue to transport it at elevation. However, OSHA regulates that items are transported approximately 4 inches off the ground.

Make Sure Your Workplace is Laid Out Correctly

A well-designed workplace has a significant influence on forklift safety. Making sure that all aisles are clear will give a forklift have the space needed to operate safely. Additionally, zones in which forklifts operate must be marked to warn employees and visitors. While signs are popular, many employers use tape or paint to mark where forklifts operate in their workplace. Signs are easy to miss, but tape and paint is a constantly-visible reminder of the dangers of forklifts.

Don't Accept Passengers

Do not use a forklift to transport another person, even for short distances. If a load is too heavy for a forklift, do not continue to try and lift it by using coworkers as a counterbalance. Crushing accidents are devastating, and these practices are common causes of deadly incidents.

If you’ve been injured in a forklift accident, call the work injury attorneys at Arnold & Itkin today. We’ve won billions for clients and are ready to fight for your compensation. Consultation is free!


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