8 ways to prevent forklift accidents

Each year, thousands of injuries are sustained from forklift or powered industrial truck accidents, and sadly, several deaths. Many commercial and farming operations can benefit from implementing proper safety protocols, resulting in reduced worker injuries and workers’ compensation claims.

  • Provide training. Employers are required to provide training on how to properly use a forklift. Provide written, video, or lecture training, combined with hands-on demonstration. Training should include: 
    • Weight restrictions and load stability parameters. 
    • Protocol for pedestrians and workers in the area of operation. 
    • Proper navigation of door openings and other hazardous areas, such as ramps and narrow aisles. 
    • Proper stacking of loads. 
    • Any other operating instructions, warnings, or precautions listed in the operator’s manual for the type of forklift being used. 
    • Employers must certify that each operator has received training and evaluate each operator at least once every three years. 
  • Provide supervision. For those first operating a forklift, be sure to provide plenty of supervision and guidance from an experienced and trained operator. 
  • Make no exceptions. No one under the age of 18 should operate a forklift. It is a violation of Federal law. 
  • Provide ventilation. Remember that forklifts are often gas-powered, meaning that carbon monoxide can build up in enclosed areas. 
  • Schedule checkups. Routinely check to make sure the forklift is maintained properly. This includes the horn, lights, tire pressure, hydraulics, brakes, steering, and operating systems. 
  • Never allow passengers. Unless your forklift is designed for more than one operator, never give a ride. 
  • Watch overhead. Consider doorways, wires, and other overhead obstructions that may interfere with a raised load. 
  • No stunts allowed. Never tolerate horseplay or reckless driving, no matter how experienced an operator may be. Consider enforcing disciplinary action to emphasize the seriousness of the offense. 
Learn more about forklift safety from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration website, and also check out the frequently asked questions. Do your part to keep everyone in the workplace safe.