No matter the context, forklift safety should always be taken seriously. Like operating all vehicles, focus and remaining alert remain a top priority, especially as the leading cause of forklift-related accidents occur from straying away from following simple guidelines.
So what exactly do you need to know to keep out of harm’s way?
The nitty-gritty behind forklift safety
According to WorkSafe, there has been an average of:
- 430 worker compensation claims for injuries involving forklifts each a year since 2012;
- 45% were serious injuries which required more than five days off work;
- There have also been 137 incidents of pedestrians being struck by a forklift, or run over and trapped;
- 88 incidents resulted in a serious injury which required hospitalisation;
- 2 incidents resulted in a death.
Keeping yourself, and those around you, in the safest possible space around forklift operation, comes with understanding the essentials of hazards and surroundings. While there are plenty of regulations that allow, here are 7 rules you should aim t keep on top of at all times:
- Only operate a forklift if you are qualified
To ensure full safety, only operators who have an LO or LF licence should operate a forklift. Never let anyone unlicensed drive one, even if it’s just for a short distance.
- Inspect the machinery before use
Before your shift, thoroughly inspect the forklift – including tyres, lights, brakes, horns, and fluid levels – for any signs of defects. While it may be tempting to just assume everything is in tip-top shape, if a problem does happen to pop up, it needs to be fixed immediately to prevent danger.
- Wear a seatbelt
It goes without saying, but a seatbelt is a must at all times, no matter how frequently you get on and off the vehicle during your shift. The leading cause of related accidents and fatalities usually involves a driver who is thrown out of the forklift, due to not wearing a seatbelt – so it pays to be cautious.
- Be aware of pedestrians
Most people who work around these vehicles in a warehouse environment assume that a driver can see them at all times. This is not the case; if you’re operating a forklift, take extra care to look around – if someone is in your blind spot, don’t assume they’ll step out of the way.
- Don’t let pedestrians walk close to the vehicle
While in operation, all pedestrians should keep a safe distance at all times. Even at low speeds, if you need to swerve, go over an uneven surface or hit a bump, your run the risk of crashing into those nearby If the impact is significant enough, it’s likely you’ll injure them severely, or even cause death.
- Always pay attention – focus is everything
Most important of all, always pay attention and maintain focus when operating a forklift. Don’t become distracted by your phone, earbuds or those nearby. All it takes is a split-second distraction to have fatal consequences. If you are failing to keep focused, stop the forklift immediately.
- Understand load basics
Check the load stability before you pick it up with the forks. Step in front of the load, and separate the forks as far as possible before you put them to work.
Additionally, make sure the load is stable, flat and centred. Never overload the forklift, even if it means making multiple trips.
Operating a forklift comes with hefty responsibility, which should never be taken lightly. Following these rules can help reduce running the risk of serious injuries or fatal outcomes, especially in environments that aren’t used to having forklifts around. When in doubt, communicate the expectations and responsibilities of your staff and visitors, so the boundaries and rules are understood by your entire team.
For further questions about forklift safety in your workplace, contact the friendly team at Damoli on 1300 326 654.