Along with maintaining the vehicle, any forklift operator must use safety precautions while driving it. You must remind yourself of how dangerous these vehicles can be and avoid situations that put you and other employees at risk. This includes any kind of horseplay on or around the equipment. There is always temptation to fool around and play games at work, but the potential for disaster is too great to give in to these temptations. Instead operators must remain completely focused on the vehicle and the job at hand.
At the end of the day, it is the forklift driver who holds the keys to avoiding disasters. He or she has to understand how the forklift works and how to react in a given situation in order to avoid an accident. These skilled drivers have to pay attention to many factors while operating their trucks. For example, they must pay close attention to the type of terrain. Any loose objects, holes, or bumps on the road surface can lead to a loss of control.
This can cause you to drop the load or sink and destabilize. The surface you drive on must be rated for four times the amount of weight you will carry. For example, if your forklift weighs 6,000 pounds and is carrying a 4,000 pound load, you multiply the total, 10,000 pounds, by four, which means the floor must be able to hold 40,000 pounds. Keep in mind that the weight on forklifts is not completely even, so if just one wheel goes off onto a surface that is not rated for that weight, it could cause the whole vehicle to destabilize.
We have compiled a list of our top forklift operator safety tips. Use these in training or share them with the operators in your facility. You could even post labels or signs as reminders of safety operating practices!
- Operators must wear restraints at all times.
- Avoid turning while on ramps or inclines.
- Double check to make sure the brake is set, and the forks are completely lowered and in neutral before stepping off of the forklift.
- Moving people on pallets or forks should not be allowed in any workplace.
- Moving people should only be done with the proper platform attachments and all persons being lifted must use a fall protection system.
- Should the forklift begin to roll over or roll to the side, the operator should never jump. He or she must stay in the vehicle and hold on to the truck, leaning into the direction of the turn.
- Never leave the forklift unattended; this means the operator should never be more than 25 feet away or out of line of site when the truck is powered.
This list of operator safety tips is in no way complete! We recommend exploring OSHA’s resources and thoroughly training operators before they operate a forklift.
- Arc Flash Safety Requirements
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- Safety in the Workplace and 5S
- Safety Signs in the Workplace
- Forklift Safety Procedures– creativesafetysupply.com
- The Importance of Forklift Operator Training– babelplex.com
- Forklift Safety in 6 Steps– safetyblognews.com
- National Forklift Safety Day– blog.creativesafetysupply.com
- Best Practices for Forklift Safety– forkliftsafety101.com
- Forklift Pre-Inspection Checklist– bridge-to-safety.com