Forklift Safety 101

Forklift Safety 101

Forklifts are an example of a machine used daily in warehouses, industrial facilities and on construction sites. They make the job of moving and lifting all kinds of goods and materials from place to place a quick and efficient process. As with all equipment, though, it’s important to keep safety in mind in order to minimize the risk of injuries. By following some basic safety tips regularly, you’ll be doing your part to keep yourself and your team safe and productively moving forward on the job.

Forklift Safety Tips You Can Use

If you’re relatively new to operating a forklift or it’s been some time since you took your training, these forklift safety tips will be helpful to you on the job.

Ensure that Forklifts are Only Operated by Qualified Operators

These large pieces of equipment aren’t toys and OSHA requires that they should only be operated by staff who have completed the necessary training.

Operators and employees may need to be reminded periodically that the only person who should be on a forklift is the operator. No one should be attempting to “hitch” a ride on this equipment by grabbing onto it or “borrowing” the forklift when not in use, even for a few minutes.

Wear Appropriate Safety Clothing When Operating the Forklift

Forklift operators must wear safety shoes, a hard hat and a high-visibility jacket when operating their equipment.

Avoid any overly loose-fitting clothing that may get caught in the machinery’s moving parts.

Inspect the Forklift Before Operation

Inspect the forklift at the beginning of each shift. Look for any faults in the steering, brakes, controls and warning systems. You’ll also want to inspect the tires and the masts, looking for anything out of the ordinary, as well as check for hydraulic leaks or damaged hydraulic hoses.

If you notice anything unusual, report if to your supervisor right away and don’t operate the forklift until it has been repaired.

Always Set the Brake Before Loading or Unloading

These machines can be exceptionally efficient at loading and unloading material from trucks, trailers and railway cars. Just make sure the forklift is secure and won’t start rolling before starting to load or unload a pallet of materials with the forklift.

Keep the Load Low

If you attempt to drive with a load that is packed too tall or that is too top-heavy, the forklift could tip over. In that situation, you’re risking your own safety as well as the safety of others working nearby, who may become injured by falling or sliding items from the load itself, other products in the warehouse or the forklift itself, if it tips over.

Take Time When Making Turns

Forklifts aren’t built for moving quickly around turns in a warehouse, recycling facility or a construction site. They need space to navigate around corners. If an operator tries to take a turn too tightly, the forklift can tip over.

It makes more sense to slow down and take a wider turn. There’s less likelihood that a load will shift in this instance, leading to a change in the machine’s center of gravity and the forklift tipping over onto its side.

Teach Other Employees to Keep Clear of Forklifts in Operation

Your workers should be aware that a forklift operator may not necessarily be able to see them while moving or turning in the warehouse or on a construction site. These workplaces tend to be noisy, too. If the forklift operator is wearing hearing protection, it is even less likely that he’ll be able to respond to a verbal cue that a fellow worker has ventured too close to the machinery.

Productivity should be on everyone’s mind when working with or near a forklift. Rushing a job much can have the opposite effect from what’s desired if it leads to an accident or injuries. Proper training and strict adherence to safety rules increase productivity by keeping everyone working together with less downtime.