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.