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Celebrating National Forklift Safety Day with 15 Safety Tips

Forklift injuries cause around 35,000 serious injury accidents per year. An according to OSHA 25% of forklift-related accidents are the result of inadequate training. To help ensure the correct operation of forklift trucks, we have compiled a quick reference guide for operators.

1. Qualified Operators Only 

Only those employees who have been trained, authorized and licensed should operate materials handling equipment.

2. Protective Gear

Operators should be appropriately dressed – the correct safety equipment, including a hi-visibility jacket, safety shoes and hard-hats (where appropriate) should always be worn. Be aware that loose clothing may become caught or interfere with work tasks.

3. Equipment Inspection

Materials handling equipment should always be thoroughly inspected and daily checks made before starting work with the shift supervisor being informed if any problems are identified.

4. Preparation

Never operate material handling equipment with wet or greasy hands or shoes as they could slide off the controls and cause an accident When operating the machinery, ensure you are in the correct position and able to reach all controls on the equipment.

5. Work Area Awareness

Follow all the worksite rules, regulations and restrictions and only operate equipment on designated roadways and specified areas. Observe all warning signs particularly those on maximum permitted floor loadings and clearance heights, which may differ across the worksite. Operate the equipment within the designated speed limit; take turns slowly and cautiously.

6. Load Stability

Handle loads carefully and check them closely for stability and balance before raising, lowering or moving off as falling loads can cause injury and damage. Travel with the load tilted back and the forks as low as possible as this will increase the stability of the equipment being operated. Use ropes or bindings to secure loads if required.

7. Clear Visibility

Carrying a load close to the floor provides good forward visibility; when that is not possible, operate the equipment in reverse, except on a ramp, to ensure optimal visibility for the driver.

8.No Passengers

Do not let other people ride on the equipment unless a second seat is fitted. Forklifts are designed to carry loads, not people. If a person must be lifted, use only a securely attached work platform and cage, following the appropriate operating instructions. Learn more about pedestrian safety tips.

9. Restricted Areas

Do not permit anyone to stand or walk under a load, lifting mechanism or attachment as the load could fall and cause serious injury. Never place hands or feet on a lift truck mast as a serious injury will be caused if the mast is lowered while your hands or feet are on it.

10. Driving on Ramps

Drive-up gradients in a forward direction and down in reverse, especially while carrying loads. Never turn the equipment when on a loading ramp.

11. Equipment Capacity

Never use fork tips to raise, push or pull a load. The weight capacity of the lift should never be overloaded; this can cause the rear wheels to raise off the ground, flipping the truck and injuring the person of equipment being used.

12. Special Loads

Make sure that round, tall, long or wide loads are balanced and well secured; always operate slowly when maneuvering these objects.

13. Use Your Safety Equipment

Always use the horn or backup alerts when going in reverse. Utilize the safety equipment provided on the forklift, including blue lights and wearing your safety belt.

14. Refueling

Forklifts are only to be recharged or refueled at the designated station for that equipment, making certain that the machine is turned off before charging or fueling. Engine-powered trucks should always be refueled in a ventilated, spark and flame-free environment.

15. Shift End

At the end of each shift, park the equipment in its designated station confirming that the forks are lowered to the ground, the parking brake is engaged, and the machine is turned off.

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