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The Importance of a Seatbelt in Forklifts

seatbelt safetyA typical warehouse forklift weighs an average of 9,000 pounds and can be very dangerous if left in the hands of an untrained operator without the right safety tools. There are roughly 85 forklift fatalities a year, and seat belts play an important role in preventing more from happening. If you operate forklifts, it is essential to your safety to receive proper training and to utilize all of the safety tools at all times to minimize your risk of injury or fatality when driving a forklift.

Forklift Tip Overs

Forklift tip overs are the most deadly type of forklift accident according to the CDC. Forklift tip overs are caused by workers driving too fast, turning around corners too fast, carrying too heavy loads, accessing a ramp wrong, and carrying an unbalanced load.

In addition to tip over accidents, serious injuries and fatalities caused by being crushed under a fallen forklift are another top accident. OSHA has created a regulation requiring that all industrial machines manufactured after 1992 be equipped with seat belts and other restraints. While OSHA does not have a law that specifically requires seat belt use, they do require that employers provide a safe working environment for workers free of recognized hazards, and enforcing seat belt use to prevent tip over accidents is included in this regulation.

The Cause of Tip Over-Related Fatalities

The main reason why workers die from forklift tip overs is that they fall from or attempt to jump from the tipping forklift and aren’t wearing a seatbelt. When a worker is caught underneath a forklift, the weight of the machine can liquefy or splinter a limb and render it inoperable at best, or fatally crush the work at worst.

During a tip over, a worker must never attempt to jump, and must follow these steps to protect themselves:

  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel while bracing for the tip over
  • Press both feet into the floor of the lift to brace and minimize movement
  • Lean away from the impact

The Importance of Seat Belts and Preventing Fatalities

The safest place for an operator is strapped into the seat of the forklift with the seat belt fastened. The purpose of the seat belt is to rob the operator of their most instinctual reaction; to jump away from the tipping forklift. Workers panic when their inside a tipping forklift and believe they are better off trying to get away from it. But it is difficult to jump away far enough and manage to jump straight through the opening of the doorway around the cage and seat.

In addition to causing more serious injuries and fatalities, the lack of enforcement of seat belt use can lead to thousands of dollars in OSHA fines.

Tip overs are one of the most common accidents involving forklifts and often lead to serious injuries and fatalities. However, they are preventable with safety tools like seat belts and proper forklift certification training from reputable online schools like ForkliftCertification.com.

Sources:

http://www.proliftequipment.com/blog/2014/10/10/how-important-is-a-forklift-operator-seat-belt/

https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2013/09/01/Death-by-Forklift-is-Really-the-PITs.aspx

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