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Reducing Risk, Protecting People

Forklift Safety Tips for Safer Workplaces and Material Handling

Posted by Clarion Safety Systems | 22nd Apr 2019

forklift safety tips></p><p>
	<strong>Distracted Driving Awareness Month: Don't Forget Forklift Safety</strong>
	According to the National Safety Council (NSC),
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The NSC is encouraging all
employers who hire drivers to implement a policy prohibiting the use of cell
phones while driving for the company. However, the dangers of distracted
driving are not limited to vehicles intended for the road. A powered industrial truck
is a specialized motor vehicle used to perform the
following industrial tasks:</p><ul>
are among the most common type of powered industrial truck and are
essential in many industries to transport and distribute materials. Distracted driving in a
forklift can be almost as dangerous as in a car or truck.</p><p>
	<strong>Forklift Safety and Dangers of Distracted Driving</strong>
	At first glance, distracted driving in a forklift may not seem as dangerous as in a road vehicle because the former does not reach the same high speeds that the latter does. However, there are many factors involved in driving a forklift that may make it just as hazardous, if not more so, as driving a car or truck:</p><ul>
<li>Low visibility when carrying a load</li>	
<li>Poor brakes</li>	
<li>Low maneuverability</li></ul><p>
			To compound the danger, a forklift driver is often already operating in a busy, noisy industrial environment that poses its own distractions. With additional distractions of cell phones, food and drink, cigarettes, or fatigue, the probability of an accident that causes injury to a driver or pedestrian increases.</p><p>
	Forklift training should include prohibitions on distractions like food, drink, or phones while operating the machines, but that may not go far enough to discourage the behavior. 
	<a href=Forklift safety signs reminding drivers of the prohibited items/behaviors and the consequences for violation should help send a clear and consistent message to employees that distracted driving in forklifts will not be tolerated.

Hazards of Forklift Operation
However, the dangers of operating a forklift are not limited to distracted driving. Forklift operation poses a wide range of hazards, not only to the driver but to any pedestrians that may be in the vicinity. In fact, forklift accidents were number seven on the OSHA's top 10 list of violations for 2018. While becoming more aware of the dangers posed by distracted driving in a forklift, it makes sense to take a more detailed look at forklift safety in general.

There are two basic types of dangers posed by forklift operation: dangers to the drivers and dangers to pedestrians in the vicinity.

Dangers to forklift drivers include the following:

  • Tipping over, whether to either side or towards the front
  • Falling load
  • Collision with objects or other forklifts
  • Slipping and falling while getting in and out of the vehicle
  • Hitting head on overhead cage.

Dangers to pedestrians include being hit by a forklift or crushed beneath a load that comes loose.

Forklift Safety Training – and Other Ways To Address Hazards Through the Hierarchy of Controls
The general ways to address safety hazards when it comes to warehouse traffic range from personal safety equipment intended to protect each individual to engineering controls that make the hazard inaccessible to administrative controls that establish safety procedures.  In a management systems approach to workplace safety, such as those that follow the ISO 45001 standard, these measures are arranged in a hierarchy – the hierarchy of controls – according to their effectiveness.

The top two controls are eliminating the hazard and substituting with less hazardous materials, processes, operations or equipment. The next three controls for hazards that cannot be eliminated or substituted often are used in conjunction with one another. These are:

  • Use of engineering controls, such as guards and physical barriers.
  • Use of administrative controls that both establish safety policies and inform workers of them, such as through safety training. An example is forklift signs that inform forklift drivers of the right of way or speed limit in a particular area.
  • Provide and ensure the use of personal protective equipment.

Forklift Safety Tips
According to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, forklift-related incidents result in 20,000 serious injuries and nearly 100 deaths in the United States every year. However, the good news is that many forklift accidents can be prevented by imposing and enforcing safety guidelines within the workplace.

The following are guidelines for employers:

    1. Prevent Underage Forklift Driving: According to OSHA, federal law prevents anyone from operating a forklift while under the age of 18.
    2. Provide Adequate Forklift Training: Do not allow any employee to operate a forklift without receiving proper training and obtaining a license.
    3. Inspect and Maintain Equipment: Daily forklift inspection should include steering wheel, horn, brakes, lights, tires, and oil levels, as well as the forks themselves to ensure they are not cracked or bent.

These are forklift safety guidelines specific to forklift operators:

    1. Ensure Load Security: Before lifting, place the forks as far under the load as they will go. Ensure the load is balanced before lifting.
    2. Travel Safely: When transporting a load, keep it as low to the ground as you can. Observe all speed limits and take extra care on inclines.
    3. Watch Where You're Going: Travel in reverse if the load blocks your front-facing view.
    4. Be Mindful of Pedestrians: Whenever possible, stay out of areas frequented by pedestrians. If driving in areas where pedestrians may be present, use your horn to alert them.

Reminding everyone on your worksite of forklift safety regulations is critical to reduce the potential for accidents. Clarion Safety carries  forklift labels and signs as well as material handling safety labels that follow ISO and ANSI standards and comply with OSHA regulations.

Reach out to us for more information on how we can help increase material handling safety or work together on a forklift pathmarking system for your workplace.

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