How to Avoid a Forklift Tip-Over

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), forklift tip-over accidents are the most common incident involving forklifts. When a forklift is being improperly operated, many factors play into the reasons why it is dangerous. The physics of a load-bearing lift truck, excessive speed, and not paying attention to the surroundings can lead to incredibly hazardous situations.

What Is a Forklift Tip-Over?

A forklift tip-over can occur when a portion of a lift moves too far in one direction. In this instance, the lift can tip over on its side. Or, the lift can tip backward or forward.

Forklift tip-overs cause severe injuries and fatalities every year and require excellent safety training to avoid them and keep workers safe. Forklift certification training is essential if you want to protect your life while on the job, whether you’re an operator or a pedestrian. is a leading provider of OSHA compliant training for everything related to forklift tip-overs, including:

✓ Forklift tip over procedures – what to do if a forklift tips over

✓ How to avoid forklift tip-overs

✓ How other safety procedures can prevent forklift tip-overs

✓ And much more

With our support, forklift operators can learn how to take the necessary precautions to guard against forklift tip-overs and improve on-the-job safety at worksites nationwide.


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What Causes Forklift Tip-Overs?

It’s important to understand what causes tip-overs in the first place. When the center of gravity is on the side of the stability triangle, it can cause the forklift to lose proper balance and tip over. This is often caused by turning a corner, carrying an unbalanced load, driving into a pothole, or driving on a sloped surface. See the diagram explaining the stability triangle here to learn more. Other reasons why tip-overs occur are when the operator exceeds the load capacity of the forklift, excessive speeds are used when turning the lift, the forklift is turning on an incline or uneven surface, the lift gets too close to an edge on the floor, traveling with the load elevated too high, and others.

Forklift Tip-Over Examples

Situations in which a forklift can tip over include:

  • The operator turns a corner too quickly
  • The operator inadvertently drives over a pothole or encounters other road hazards
  • The operator collides with power lines or other overhead obstacles
  • The load is raised too high on the mast
  • The load shifts during travel
  • The load is lifted or lowered improperly on a slope

Ultimately, a forklift operator needs to know the dangers associated with tip-overs. With a clear understanding of forklift tip-overs, an operator can do their part to avoid such issues.

Forklift Tip-Over Procedure: What to Do If a Forklift Tips Over

If a forklift tips over, the operator should try not to panic. Instead, the operator should:

  • Lean away from the fall
  • Maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel
  • Brace their feet
  • Avoid jumping from the lift

If the operator or any bystanders are injured during a forklift tip-over, seek out medical assistance immediately.

Forklift Tip-Over Prevention: How to Stop a Tip-Over

The first step towards preventing forklift tip-overs is to complete a forklift certification. Only trained and experienced operators can recognize hazards and avoid deadly tip-overs. Whether you already have completed training or you still need to certify to operate forklifts, there are several things you can do to prevent tip-overs and other accidents, including:

Never exceed the load capacity of a forklift

Never turn while on a ramp, either ascending or descending

Reduce speed when taking a turn

Ensure the load is facing uphill when traveling on a sloped surface

Keep the forks no higher than 4-6 inches above the ground when traveling

Tilt the mast forward when picking up or lowering a load

Make sure the load is tilted backward when traveling

Never brake suddenly with a raised load

Do not move unstable loads

Use caution when moving oddly shaped loads that are tall or wide

Forklift tip-overs are serious problems, but they can be prevented. If forklift operators prioritize safety, they are well-equipped to avoid tip-overs that can otherwise lead to accidents and injuries.

How to Protect Pedestrians When Using a Forklift

When a forklift is operating in a worksite, it isn’t only the operator whose life is at risk should an accident take place. On-foot workers are at risk too. When a forklift is being driven too fast, is turning too fast, is not properly clearing corners, or is not warning others of its presence at cross aisles, a pedestrian may be caught in its path and struck or crushed by the forklift, or pinned against the lift and another fixed object. Forklift operators must never approach a worker standing against a bench or another fixed object head on, and they must sound alarms to warn others when turning a corner or entering an intersection.

What to Do After a Forklift Tips Over

In the case that a forklift tip-over does occur, it is important for forklift operators to stay inside the forklift and not try to jump out of the vehicle when it is tipping over. When an operator tries to flee a forklift tipping over, it most often results in serious injuries or fatalities. It may be instinctual to want to jump from a tipping vehicle and get out of the way. However, as a forklift continues into a roll, it usually accelerates rapidly and can crush or pin the worker underneath. The best thing to do if you’re inside a forklift when it starts to tip over is to make sure your seatbelt is fastened, hold on tight to the steering wheel, brace your feet, lean away from the impact, and lean forward. This will help to minimize any injuries resulting from the tip-over. That is the safety protocol for traditional sit-down forklifts, but you should exit standing lifts by stepping out of and away from them.

Hopefully, you’ll never have to figure out what to do if a forklift tips over. The best safety policy is to have a solid forklift tip-over procedure in place by ensuring they don’t happen at all! Of course, accidents occur all the time, and is here to help with all of your forklift tip-over safety training.

If you need to complete your forklift certification to be prepared to handle and prevent tip-overs, check out our online, OSHA-compliant training program and sign up today! We’ll ensure your company is OSHA-compliant – and more importantly, help your employees avoid forklift tip-over accidents in the first place!

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