Forklifts are powerful machines used to lift and carry heavy material loads. However, a number of workplace accidents in manufacturing and storage facilities are forklift-related. Weighing up to 8500 lbs, forklifts have their hazards. Some of the most commonly reported forklift accidents include overturns, collisions, pedestrian accidents and falls. In this article, we will shed light on risky forklift operations that result in accidents and how to avoid them.
Overturning is a major cause of forklift accidents that accounts for almost 25% of all forklift related accidents. A forklift can overturn due to an uneven distribution of weight, carrying excess or unusual loads, an obstructed view of the operator and raising heavy loads to considerable heights.
Overturning can be prevented by ensuring the load is stable and balanced on the forks. Proper training and the correct certifications can also avoid overturning. But, in case a forklift overturns, the operator shouldn’t try to jump from the vehicle, as this can cause injury. The operator should remain seated, hold on tight and lean in the direction opposite to where the machine is falling.
- Pedestrian accidents
Pedestrian accidents are quite prevalent with risky forklift operation as workers can be struck, pinned or crushed by a forklift. Pedestrian workers are generally struck when they’re in the blind spots of the forklift operators. Moreover, it can also happen when there is overcrowding on the warehouse floor or a poor warehouse layout puts both forklift operators and workers in danger.
These accidents can be avoided by ensuring that operators obey speed limits, watch for pedestrians, sound horns, and avoid driving close to employees. On the other hand, pedestrians should not wear ear buds, headphones or anything that could obstruct their hearing. Moreover, having separate pedestrian and forklift traffic with designated walkways, restricting forklift use in high foot traffic areas and avoiding obstruction of the driver’s view with the forklift load are other ways to avoid pedestrian accidents.
- Loads falling from a forklift
The risk of loads falling off a forklift arises when there is a change of balance for the vehicle. This can cause injuries to workers and damage to the products.
To avoid this, always secure the load and ensure that it’s balanced or stable before lifting the load for the safety of the floor workers and forklift operator. Moreover, if your warehouse forklift has to lift workers at any time, ensure that the correct attachments are used to reduce the risk of a fall or other injuries.
Forklift drivers can collide into aisles, tools or other forklifts. Narrow and cluttered aisles, high pedestrian traffic, driver negligence and obstruction of view are factors that make maneuvering tough and cause collisions.
To avoid collisions, forklift operators should follow all posted speed limits and drive at a cautious speed. It’s also important for drivers to learn their route for the project to prepare for potential blind-spots, obstacles and other forklift hazards.
Thus, a large number of forklift accidents can be avoided by proper staff training, a good warehouse layout and well-established forklift operation practices. Looking out for the above mentioned risky forklift operations can prevent accidents and promote a safe working environment.