Forklift Safety Essentials You Cannot Ignore

Forklifts are a common sight across construction sites, shipping yards, warehouses, freight terminals and similar workplaces, where they are employed to lift and move heavy loads with absolute precision. They require regular maintenance and skilled handling, as otherwise they could become a workplace safety hazard, with the risk of serious injury and even fatality.

Some of the associated risks are:

  • Overturning forklifts due to load imbalance
  • Operator Accidents / Falls
  • Pedestrian Accidents due to injury / crushing
  • Workers on foot being struck by forklifts

India sees many forklift related injuries and deaths every year, apart from other industrial accidents. The human and financial loss of such incidents is alarming, to say the least. What is really sad is that a lot of these accidents can be completely prevented, with some level of training, proactive diligence and safety measures. And with workplace safety gaining prominence off late, it is always a good idea to revisit some basic forklift safety essentials to ensure safety for operators, employees and pedestrians.

Your Forklist Safety Checklist

1. Operator Training & Certification

A lot of forklift accidents are as a result of poorly trained or inexperienced operators, and as a company, you should always ensure that you have a trained resource / manpower to operate these heavy machines. Periodic evaluation of their skills and performance and continuous training to keep them abreast of the latest technological developments in forklifts can really prevent a large number of accidents, and improve workplace safety.

2Daily Forklift Checks

As simple and mundane as this might sound, this can be really helpful in ensuring the forklift’s safety before operation. Some basics that you could check for should be:

  • All operating controls, including brakes, steering wheel, lights, horn etc
  • Tyre pressure
  • Fluid levels (fuel, coolant, engine, brake,hydraulic)
  • Any damage on the mast and overhead guard
  • Condition of the forks
  • Oil, water or radiator leakage

3Respect Forklift Limitations

There are different types of forklifts designed for different types of tasks. Each forklift type will have its own unique structure, maximum load capacity, turning radius and speed. It is imperative to know all about the forklift to be used, and its limitations during operation, else it could compromise forklift safety not just for the operator, but even the pedestrians around.

4Floor Marking System

This can play an important role on a large site. A floor marking system can help manage traffic better and keep workers away from forklift paths, and vice versa. This will keep the forklift away from pedestrians and other workers, avoiding the risk of loads falling off or accidentally crushing people.

A comprehensive marking system that highlights areas at risk for physical hazards like falling, or other dangers such as fire hazards and the like, can help forklift operators be on track.

5Ensure All-Round Visibility

A lot of forklift accidents are caused when the operator doesn’t have complete visibility while moving the forklift, due to the size of the load being carried. A simple way to take care of this is to keep the forks as low to the ground as possible and to use lights and rear view mirrors, as well as to have a good view of the rack where the load needs to be placed. This can ensure precise handling of loads, without them unintentionally injuring anyone on site.

6Keep Safe Distance

While operating the forklift, it is good to have it a safe distance away from other machinery and equipment on site, unless absolutely necessary. This would allow some room for error in case the forklift needs to stop, move or turn, or even if the mast or fork behaves unexpectedly.

These are just some of the basics of ensuring forklift safety. There are many more, such as regular servicing and repairs, for instance, which need to be taken care of. However, if you choose to rent a forklift from GEAR, you need not worry about the condition of your rented equipment or operator skill, as we would take care of all of that.