Yellow Forklift in warehouse - Safety Tips for Workplace Safety

5 Forklift Safety Tips for the Workplace

Janet worked as a forklift operator at a paper mill for several years, so she knew all the shortcuts. One day, she was in a hurry and took a shortcut through a rarely-used pedestrian zone. Unfortunately, she didn’t see the other worker until it was too late.

Forklifts are vital pieces of heavy machinery enabling warehouse personnel to move enormous quantities easily and quickly. Yet, they can be dangerous when operated without training or if safety protocols are disregarded, like in Janet’s case. 

When running a forklift, you must observe basic safety practices to lessen the chance of accidents and injury. Below are five workplace safety tips for forklift and powered industrial trucks to help keep you safe.

1.    Ensure proper forklift training 

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that over 60,000 injuries occur annually due to forklift accidents. 

According to OSHA, 70% of those injuries could be prevented by implementing more strict safety training policies. You should conduct formal training via classroom-based learning focused on proper operation, usage, and limits of the forklift. Hands-on training should emphasize safe operation in live workplace conditions.

2.    Maintain regular forklift inspection 

Perform a thorough inspection before use. Be sure to check:

  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Tires
  • Safety systems
  • Hydraulics

Checking these components ensures the forklift responds to your input and is safe to operate. There should be a checklist, which the operator can use to examine all critical areas for damage or defect.

3.    Utilize warehouse floor markings and safety signs

Thirty-six percent of the people killed in forklift-related deaths were pedestrians. To help avoid accidents, use floor markers to indicate traffic flow. Signs indicating pedestrian or forklift-only areas, along with safety gates and stop signs, should be used to safeguard against preventable accidents.

fasten seat belt sign

4.    Maintain warehouse organization 

Good warehouse organization limits forklift usage in high pedestrian traffic areas and utilizes forklift-only traffic areas. A well-organized warehouse keeps products ordered and cataloged, making it easier to maneuver and find items. 

Drivers can further preserve the safety and the condition of forklifts by keeping the forklifts and the area surrounding them clean. Accumulated grease and grime, especially on the steering wheel and tires, is an accident waiting to happen. Conduct walkthroughs to identify obstructions that could pose risks. Don’t forget to inspect and repair damage to pallets and loading docks.

5.    Drive at or under the max forklift speed limit

The average forklift weighs 9,000 pounds and is capable of speeds nearing 20 miles per hour. Due to weight and design, forklifts do not stop on a dime. When there are no pedestrians present, the recommended speed limit is 8mph, and the speed limit is lowered to 3mph when pedestrians are present. 

No matter the circumstance, always use sound judgment when operating a forklift. Err on the side of caution. Drive slowly, make eye contact with pedestrians, and remain aware of your surroundings.

Bonus Tips:

  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Never exceed the weight capacity rating.
  • Don’t talk or text and drive; avoid distractions.
  • Pedestrians should never walk underneath elevated forks.
  • Properly secure the forklift when it is not in use.
  • Do not carry passengers.

Proper training and adherence to these guidelines will significantly reduce the chances of an accident. Safety, as always, is the number one priority. 

Applying these tips keeps you and your co-workers safe. A forklift is not a toy; it is a potentially dangerous vehicle used to improve productivity and efficiency. Operate responsibly. 

Finally, as you are considering these safety tips, consider what you can do to make your forklifts even safer. The HIT-NOT Proximity Detection System can do just that. 

Contact SynTech Systems to request more information about HIT-NOT, and our other safety products. You can reach us at 256-571-5024.