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Six fundamental forklift safety tips

Forklift-related accidents accounted for 7,290 injuries involving days away from work and 78 deaths in the U.S. in 2020, according to the National Safety Council. Although your profession might require forklift operation on a regular basis, there are steps you can take to ensure that you’re operating them safely and reducing the risk of injury or death for yourself and others.

Follow manufacturer instructions and cooperate with OSHA guidelines:

Ensuring that you don’t exceed the manufacturer’s specified weight limit or make modifications to any part of the equipment will help you prevent avoidable accidents. OSHA requires initial training for forklift operation that must be repeated every three years.

Practice seatbelt safety:

Wear a seatbelt if there is one and prioritize purchasing future forklifts with seatbelts installed. No matter what model or brand you might be operating, wearing a hard hat is critical to protect your head from potential tip-overs and falling objects.

Check under the hood:

Regularly inspect your vehicles to ensure that all parts are up-to-date and working smoothly. If you notice any errors or malfunctions, be sure to immediately remove the truck from operation until it is properly fixed and back to working condition. Keeping up maintenance and regularly cleaning your vehicles will prevent injuries and can also extend their useful lives.

Maintain a clean workspace:

Keep the space clean and well-lit to significantly reduce your risk of forklift-related accidents. You should have a clear view of your space and clearance while moving anything. Designating spaces as forklift areas and some as pedestrian areas can be helpful in avoiding forklift and pedestrian collisions, one of the top causes of forklift deaths. If you must cross a pedestrian area or obstructed aisle, use your horn and proceed with caution.

Watch your speed:

Follow the speed limit since these vehicles take much longer to stop than others—up to 50 feet at nine mph. If your truck has an electronic speed control function, use this to minimize the risk of colliding with people or objects.

Know how to safely exit the forklift:

Know how to exit if the forklift tips over because this is the leading cause of death in forklift operations. If you feel the truck start to tip over, don’t try to immediately jump out; it is safer to stay firmly seated in the truck and lean your body in the opposite direction that the truck is tipping. By following all rules and specifications for your forklift model and the space in which it is being operated, you can minimize the risk of injury for yourself and all other employees. If you have questions about how forklift operation can impact your insurance policies or workers’ compensation claims, reach out to your independent insurance agent today.