It is quite common in the most workplace to find forklifts being used regularly. Currently, forklifts are in operation more often than before.
While forklifts usually offers everyday materials handling solution for many businesses, each year they continue to be related with workplace deaths and injuries. The human and economic cost of forklift-related incidents for employees, industry and the community is large.
However, forklift incidents are preventable, especially when employees and employers work together to improve workplace health and safety.
The bad news is that forklift-related accidents increase with forklift use in the place of work.
As an example, the U.S Department of labor’s occupational safety and health administration reports that there are about 100 deaths not to mention the numerous injuries caused by forklifts on an annual basis.
Most of these cases are however caused by lack of proper forklift training, improper use of tools and the use of old and unmaintained forklifts by careless drivers.
Most forklift accidents lead to forklift pinning and crushing, causing damage to surfaces at workplaces.
Simple safe practices such as observing speed limits, stop signs, wearing correctly fitted seat belts, slowing down and sounding the horn at an intersection can make a big difference. Having a safe work environment, effective employee training, well-maintained machinery, a traffic management plan, policies and procedures and effective supervision all help reduce the risk of forklift-related injuries.
To avoid these hazards from happening, there are a couple of malpractices to avoid in order to maintain a safe work environment. Let’s look at those bad practices.
8 Most Bad Practices That Cause Forklift Accidents In the Workplaces.
- Drivers using improper backing up techniques
- Workplaces having too many obstructions at doors and intersections
- Lack of proper maintenance of the forklift truck
- Inappropriate packing practices of the forklift
- Having shared tasks with poor communication at workplaces
- Giving unnecessary rides on the forklift
- Poorly stacked loads that are heavy and unstable on the forklift
- Lack of safety devices on the forklift with poor control layout that causes malfunction
These malpractices reveal the importance of having the right safety measures put in place to prevent forklift truck-related accidents.
Let’s now look at some of the best practices and responsibilities that can help prevent hazards especially when operating a forklift in places of work.
Employers Responsibilities in Reducing the Risks- of forklift related injuries include.
- Safe systems of work.
- Safe and well-maintained machinery.
- Proper information, training and supervision.
- Must provide site-specific and refresher training to maintain and enhance employees’ skills.
- Must ensure employees receive acquaintance training for any new forklift (it may have different controls or varying attachments).
- Maintain a register of licensed forklift operators. Make sure all contractors and any other persons using a forklift at your workplace hold the relevant forklift permits.
- Induction training for new or changed work environments, policies and safe work procedures are also a must.
- If your operators are required to use purpose-designed attachments, ensure they have received sufficient training.
- Choosing a safe forklift is one of the most obvious ways to reduce the risk of a Forklift-related injury.
Employees Responsibility in Reducing the Risks of Forklift Related Injuries Include.
- Comply with realistic instructions, training and information given, and follow safe work actions to do your work.
- Not put yourself or your co-workers at risk.
- Report accidents, near misses and hazards (including unsafe equipment) to your employer or supervisor and employees’ safety representative.
- Use protective equipment correctly namely the PPEs
- Work with your employer and co-workers to improve workplace safety
Forklifts companies and suppliers need to provide information to workplaces about a forklift’s abilities and limitations.
Manufacturers should eliminate risks posed by forklifts during the design process. An example is introducing and promoting intelligent systems, such as making it impossible to start the forklift unless the seatbelt is fastened. Beeping whenever a safety violation happens.
Suppliers or importers must provide information on:
- Any hazards associated with forklifts
- Any specific workplace conditions the forklift was supplied to meet.
- The conditions needed to ensure operators use forklifts correctly and safely
- The correct and safe use of any attachments supplied specifically for a workplace
If you hire out forklifts, ensure:
- People hiring a forklift are properly licensed and know how to use it safely.
- Each forklift is maintained according to the manufacturer’s stipulations
- Each forklift is fit for the intended purpose for which it was designed, and is safe to use
Practice proper packing
It is important to allow yourself sufficient time to park the forklift safely. A well-parked fork will help prevent an accident that might occur such as an individual walking into it. Also be sure to remove the keys after parking to avoid any accidents.
Make sure that the workers operating the forklift are well trained with all the safety procedures of the machine.
Apart from the dangers that can happen when a forklift is operated without proper training, there are also hefty charges to be paid.
Be sure to have proper ventilation as forklift emit carbon monoxide. This gas is poisonous especially when released in an enclosed work area.
Make sure the forklift is being driven in an open workplace to avoid carbon monoxide gas hazards.
The most common cause of forklift-related accidents is when the driver decides to drive carelessly or under the influence of alcohol. About 7 percent of forklift accidents are caused by the driver and this might be due to control issues or inability to see properly
Loading the forklift
Another common cause of forklift-related accidents is improper loading. A forklift can easily tip over if the load is loaded incorrectly. It is also risky to elevate an individual using a forklift.
Forklifts can tip over if you:
- Turn too fast.
- Tow without using the designated tow point.
- Strike low doors or overhead structures.
- Drive with the tines raised too high (loaded or unloaded).
- Drive across inclines or uneven ground such as potholes (particularly with a height difference greater than 20mm across the front wheels).
- Collide with another vehicle.
- Carry an unevenly balanced load.
- Carry a load facing down a slope.
- Brake too quickly, especially on a loaded forklift.
- Brake or accelerate while cornering.
- Brake or accelerate down a slope.
- Accelerate quickly in reverse.
Selecting the right Forklift for a Workplace
The following people should be involved in the selection process – employer the one to use the forklift, supervisors, operator competent person, and procuring department of personnel.
You need to work out which forklift, including what capacity and safety features, your workplace requirements. Determining these needs before you buy or hire the forklift is the most effective way of decreasing the risk of forklift-related injuries.
If you need a forklift to work in a flammable or explosive atmosphere, ask the manufacturer or supplier if the machine can do this safely.
If you need a forklift to work in poorly ventilated areas, make sure it’s electric. There is a significant risk of poisoning or asphyxiation if fuel-powered forklifts are used in these environments.
Forklifts are being released with ever-increasing safety measures and features. But you need to ensure these features do not create additional risks in your workplace.
Remember to consult with your employees, employees’ safety representative and others who may be affected by the new forklift before you make your final decision.
11 Best Forklift Signal Words.
- If you’re about to buy or hire a forklift. Choosing a safe forklift is one of the most obvious ways to reduce the risk of a forklift-related injury.
- Employers must ensure training manuals and manufacturers’ information are available to your employees.
- Everyone in the workplace is responsible for workplace health and safety.
- Most tip over incidents involve unloaded forklifts, which are more unstable than a loaded forklift with the load carried low.
- Stopping distances are often significantly under-estimated.
- A loaded forklift cannot use its maximum braking capacity, because the load will slide or fall from the tines, or the forklift will tip forwards.
- Save money and time by choosing and maintaining a forklift with features to prevent these injuries.
- Attachments include any side shift devices, jibs, extension tines and specifically designed devices for load manipulation or carrying.
- A forklift can be one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment in the workplace.
- Unsafe forklifts should not be operated until they are made safe.
- Don’t wait until an injury or death occurs at your workplace before separating pedestrians and forklifts.
But fortunately, with these few recommendation and best practices, these accidents can be significantly reduced thus creating a safe workplace for everyone.