Forklift moving at top speed rise in forklift safety risk

Forklift accidents pose a significant threat to industries and worker safety, both globally and locally. In the bustling industrial landscape, where efficiency and productivity drive operations, these powerful machines pose substantial risks to both operators and bystanders.

To better understand what may be contributing to the rise in forklift accidents, let’s explore the current state of forklift accidents and contributing factors.


Current State of Forklift Accidents

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),  (forklifts) consistently rank among the top safety violations. Workplaces failing to comply with safety regulations contribute to these violations.

Diving into this escalating trend helps unravel the causes behind forklift accidents. It also sheds light on the critical need for a proactive approach in addressing this issue. Below we’ve outlined insights into the consequences industries face and actionable strategies to curb the trend.

The Rise in Forklift Accidents graph 2021-2023

Causes Behind the Increase in Forklift Accidents

Peer closely into any forklift accident and you will notice a common thread. Most of them were caused by either poor training, negligence, or equipment issues.

Lack of Proper Training

Inadequate or improper training emerges as a leading contributing factor to forklift accidents. Insufficient training, particularly for new and inexperienced operators, poses an elevated risk of them wreaking havoc in a workplace. The post-Covid workforce surge led to a speedy hiring and training process. This resulted in young operators lacking essential safety knowledge. Without proper education on safe operating procedures and emergency protocols, accidents become more likely.

Note: Operators should be well-versed in motor operations, safety codes, steering and maneuvering, fork operation, surface conditions, charging procedures, and vehicle capacity.

Negligence of Safety Procedures

Neglecting established safety protocols is another critical element in the rise of forklift accidents. Some protocols that are often ignored include:

  • Proper Signaling
  • Correct Loading and Unloading Practices
  • Speed Limits
  • Weight Limits
  • Forklift/Area Safety Features
  • Will certainly compromise workplace safety.

Poor Maintenance and Equipment Failure

Escalating forklift accidents can also be attributed to poor maintenance and equipment failure. Examples include:

  • Aging machinery
  • Lack of regular inspections
  • Deferred maintenance
  • Worn-out parts
  • Malfunctioning brakes
  • Electrical issues
  • Overloading
  • Faulty hydraulics

Operators and bystanders are put at risk when routine inspections and repairs take a back seat for monetary reasons.


The Impact of Increasing Forklift Accidents

Forklift accidents have far-reaching consequences, like those listed below, which impact industries at various levels.


Human Cost

  • Major injuries, disabilities, and fatalities: Accidents can easily result in severe harm to employees, affecting not only the victims but also their families and colleagues.

Financial Burden

  • Medical expenses and legal fees: Treating injuries and handling legal matters strain company budgets.
  • Compensation claims: Payouts for accidents add to the financial burden.
  • Lost productivity: Downtime due to accidents lowers profitability.

Damaged Reputation

  • Poor reputation: Frequent accidents tarnish a company’s reputation.
  • Client relationships: Repeated incidents erode trust.
  • Business partnerships: A negative reputation affects business collaborations.


Strategies to Reduce Forklift Accidents

Proactive measures are essential for preventing accidents. Some steps that can be taken to reduce accidents include:

  • Enhanced Training Programs: Implement comprehensive training programs for forklift operators, emphasizing safety protocols and best practices. Trainers should provide hands-on driving courses, certification updates, and refresher training.
  • Regular Equipment Maintenance and Inspections: Establish routine inspection schedules for forklifts to identify and address potential issues before they lead to accidents. Regular checks should include identification and rectification of issues promptly.
  • Strict Adherence to Safety Protocols: Enforce a solid adherence to safety protocols. Regular audits and reminders can reinforce compliance.
  • Technology Integration: Explore safety-enhancing technologies such as the HIT-NOT® proximity detection system, speed limiters, backup cameras, and multi-warning alarms.
  • Investment in New Technology: Companies should not only utilize current technology but also attempt to always embrace and invest in technological advancements like virtual reality training systems to enhance safety measures.

These strategies may seem like common sense options, but companies must focus on the long-term positive effects of proper and committed training. A few days of “lost productivity” for proper training is nothing compared to weeks, months, and years of injuries, lawsuits, and poor reputation.


Addressing the Rise in Forklift Accidents

Forklift accidents extend beyond events involving a pedestrian. They can encompass various scenarios, including collisions with metal shelving, incorrect pallet loading, products falling onto forklifts, tip-overs, hydraulic failures, and even falls from loading docks.

One significant way to address the problem should involve following OSHA’s training plan guide, which advocates formal instruction like:

  • Lectures
  • Discussions
  • Interactive computer learning

The plan also favors practical training including:

  • Demonstrations performed by the trainer
  • Exercises performed by trainees
  • Evaluation of the operator’s performance

Prioritizing a comprehensive training program, rigorous safety procedures, plus regular and thorough equipment maintenance will help reverse the issue. Investing in these strategies will foster safer and healthier workplaces. Remember, workplace safety is non-negotiable.

SynTech’s wide-ranging safety systems serve as a valuable resource for organizations seeking to make their workspace secure. We have over 40 years of experience providing training and equipment to work sites. We are also the #1 sales and service provider of the HIT-NOT® proximity alert system. To protect your people and property, call the knowledgeable SynTech team at (256) 571-5024