Forklifts Accidents Occur Far Too Often
The majority of warehouses throughout the country, and even the world, rely on forklifts to get a job down efficiently. Without them, the productivity in most warehouses would decline. While these machines help businesses boost their productivity and improve their profits, it’s important to remember how dangerous they can be.
Forklifts can weigh up to several thousand pounds and can carry just as much. With so much power and size, it’s no surprise that these pieces of equipment can lead to serious injury if not operated carefully. Every year, around 20,000 workers suffer severe injuries due to forklift accidents. Nearly 100 workers are killed in these accidents, as well. Employers must take necessary precautions to keep their employees safe, which includes keeping warehouses clean and ensuring storage racks are safe.
Unfortunately, forklift accidents can and do happen. An employer can do everything in their power to protect their workers and pedestrians, but accidents can still occur. They leave workers seriously injured and businesses in a tough spot. Fortunately, the majority of these accidents can be prevented. Ace Equipment is here to discuss some of the most common reasons for forklift accidents and how, as an operator or employer, you can prevent them.
Lack of Training/Certification
Did you know that it is a violation of Federal law to allow an individual under the age of 18 to operate a forklift or someone over 18 that doesn’t have the proper certification? Even if a user has a driver’s license, they still need further training to operate a forklift. It takes a different set of skills and experience to safely operate a forklift. Without it, you put yourself and your coworkers in danger.
Forklift certification training focuses on understanding how the machine moves, learning what each control does and how to safely maneuver around your workspace. Through this training, operators are taught about the machine’s load capacity, how to stabilize loads, and much more. If your workspace has any forklift operators without the proper certification, they will not know how to safely move through your warehouse.
Even if your operators have the required certifications and have the necessary experience, they aren’t always safe from forklift accidents. When operating these machines, workers must always stay vigilant, keeping a close eye on their surroundings. Several things may cause inattention, from fatigue and carelessness to unhappiness. It’s important to keep warehouse morale high to keep workers engaged and focused on the job at hand.
Give operators breaks during their shift, so they can focus on their job when they need to. Allow employees to take a few minutes to regroup and stretch their legs; this can go a long way.
As we mentioned previously, forklifts can lift loads that weigh hundreds of pounds. Because of these large weights, it’s important to understand how to properly load pallets on your machine in order to avoid unstable loads, which often lead to forklift accidents. An unstable load often occurs when a load is off-center, meaning more weight is leaning towards one side or another. Additionally, damaged or loose loads can also lead to instability. Naturally, when your load is unstable, it can cause your entire forklift to tip over or drop the load.
To avoid these accidents, never exceed the capacity of your forklift. Every forklift should possess a load capacity plate that details how much weight your machine can safely hold, along with load height and load center. You must be careful when carrying a load.
Whether your forklift is electric or gas-powered, it has numerous important parts. All of these parts are necessary to ensure your forklift operates at peak performance. From the tires to the forks, each piece needs to be in good condition to protect operators and employees. Your employees should be trained to conduct a pre-shift equipment inspection, so they can catch any issues that may put them in danger. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) research notes that defective parts and products are key in most forklift accidents and injuries.
If there are any issues discovered during pre or post-shift inspections, no one should use the machine until you replace or repair it.
According to OSHA, forklift overturns are the leading cause of fatalities involving forklifts. Several things can lead to an overturned forklift, including:
- Faulty parts
- Excessive speeds
- Taking sharp turns
- Stopping or turning abruptly
- Unstable loads
- Uneven surfaces
Many factors and causes we have already discussed can cause a forklift to overturn, so it’s important to be mindful of your environment and equipment. You should never speed through your workspace, no matter how busy or behind on work you are. Always drive at a steady pace. This allows you to take turns easier and gives you more reaction time in case of a pedestrian or an object in your way. If you have a heavy load, keep it low enough to the ground that it allows you to drive safely without tipping over.
What to Do in a Turnover
If your forklift does tip, remain seated if you are operating a sit-down forklift. While it may be your natural instinct to jump from the vehicle, remain seated. Hold the steering wheel tight, brace your feet, and lean away from the impact. Most forklifts come with an overhead guard that will protect you in the case of a turnover. Also, always wear your seatbelt. It will help you remain in the cab and keep you safe.
Forklifts are powerful machines. They are large pieces of equipment that can lift hundreds of pounds worth of loads. Because of the size and power of these machines, they also come with inherent risks. If you aren’t careful, you put yourself and others in danger. Every year thousands of people are injured in forklift accidents, which even lead to some employee deaths. Always take the necessary precautions whenever using a forklift. If you wish to learn more about forklift safety or how to avoid accidents, contact Ace Equipment today.