How to Prevent Forklift Accidents
Accidents involving forklifts may be grouped into the six basic categories described below. With the proper training and instruction, nearly all of these types of forklift accidents could be avoided.
- Organizational factors – Nearly all of these are the fault or at least under the ultimate control of the employer. These may include the lack of proper equipment, pressure to perform to unrealistic timelines, improper assignment of operators to forklifts and insufficient training of operators.
- Behavioral and operational factors – Many of these are under the direct control of the employee, the forklift operator. Many of these, such as traveling at excessive speed, riding or giving a ride on a forklift, stunt driving or jerky, erratic driving, can be chalked up to poor judgement. Many others, like riding with an elevated load, parking incorrectly, improper backing up technique, etc., can be corrected with proper forklift training.
- Workplace design – These are also attributable mainly to management. Things like narrow, cluttered or crowded aisles, poor condition of the loading dock, obstructions at doors or intersections, poor lighting, etc.
- Load characteristics – This is another training issue. A properly trained operator would know how to correctly stack or place objects on the pallet, make sure the load is not too heavy and to make sure the load is stable and not going to block his vision.
- Mechanical factors – These are mostly equipment malfunctions: brakes steering, clutch, linkage, mast assembly or transmission. Emissions, blind spots or obstructions that block the operator’s view, inadequate or malfunctioning safety devices. While maintaining equipment in proper is the responsibility of the employer, a properly trained operator will recognize when mechanical factors are sub-optimum and will refuse to work until they are corrected.
- Accidents with pedestrians – These may be avoided by separating pedestrian traffic from vehicle traffic by way of designated travel ways or walkways. Again, training staff on how to communicate with one another, what high-visibility gear to wear, etc., would go a long way to preventing pedestrian accidents.
The common thread, apart from common sense, in preventing accidents is adequate training of forklift operators. ForkliftCertification.com has been training forklift drivers since 2002.