Combating the Top Forklift Accidents—National Forklift Safety Day

Combating the Top Forklift Accidents—National Forklift Safety Day

Toyota Forklift
Photo by ProEnclosures
In honor of National Forklift Safety Day, this article focuses on common forklift accidents and the importance of safety measures. We’ll discuss the ten most frequent forklift accidents, provide strategies for employers and operators to mitigate risks, and share relevant statistics on accidents and injuries. Let’s delve into this critical topic.

Forklift Accident Statistics

Understanding the impact of forklift accidents is crucial. OSHA estimates that between 35,000 and 62,000 injuries occur annually involving forklifts. In 2017, 9,050 injuries required time off work, which dropped to 7,940 in 2018. Forklift-related injuries tend to be more serious, with a median of 13 days off work compared to 8 days for other injuries. Each injury requiring medical attention costs companies an average of $41,000, highlighting the high human and financial costs.

Forklift Rollovers

Rollovers are the deadliest type of forklift accident. The main causes of rollovers include sharp turns, overweight or unbalanced loads, sudden mast movements, turning on inclines, driving with elevated loads, and navigating uneven surfaces.

To prevent rollovers, adhere to OSHA-regulated speed limits, especially around corners. Always check the forklift’s data tag for maximum load limits and avoid sudden movements with a raised mast. Never turn on an incline and keep loads low to the ground to maintain stability. Operating on even surfaces is also crucial.

When a forklift tips over, operators of sit-down forklifts should remain seated, brace themselves, and lean away from the impact point, while stand-up forklift operators should step out of the compartment and away from the truck. Always wearing a seat belt is essential.

Unicarrier Forklift

Photo by: ProEnclosures

Pedestrian Collisions

Forklifts often operate near pedestrians, making collisions a common hazard. Causes include operator inattention due to fatigue or distractions and a lack of warning signs and signals.

Prevention strategies involve providing regular breaks for operators, marking pedestrian paths, installing safety barriers, and using mirrors and warning lights to improve visibility. Adding travel alarms in noisy environments can also alert others to the presence of a forklift.

Insufficient Operator Training

Despite OSHA requirements for operator training and certification, it is sometimes overlooked, leading to accidents. Causes include unawareness of training requirements and time or budget constraints. Prevention involves enrolling in OSHA-compliant training programs, which can reduce accidents by up to 70%, and highlighting the return on investment from training, as it can save costs by preventing accidents.

Falling Loads

Loads falling off forklifts pose risks to both operators and pedestrians. Causes include improperly secured loads, fast mast movements, lack of load backrests, and bent forks. To prevent falling loads, ensure loads are properly secured using banding or shrink-wrap, center heavy loads against the carriage, and avoid sudden mast movements. Use load backrests to prevent items from falling backward and conduct pre-trip inspections to check for fork and overhead guard integrity.

CAT Forklift

Photo by: ProEnclosures

Forklifts Falling Off Docks or Trailers

Crossing thresholds like docks and trailers requires vigilance. Causes of falls include rolling trucks or trailers, slippery or damaged floors, and improper dock plates. Prevention involves securing truck or trailer wheels with chocks, slowing down when approaching docks, inspecting floors for damage, and ensuring dock plates are properly positioned and rated for the load weight.

Personnel Falls from Forks

Personnel should never ride on forklift forks due to the high risk of falls. Causes include prioritizing speed over safety, lack of aerial lifts, and unapproved lifting platforms. Prevention includes using proper equipment like scissor lifts or man lifts, using OSHA-compliant lifting cages with guardrails and barriers, and ensuring personnel wear harnesses.

Obstructed Vision

Forklift operators must have clear visibility to avoid accidents. Causes of obstructed vision include driving with tall loads, elevated forks, and not checking blind spots. To prevent these incidents, operators should drive in the direction of clear visibility, use a spotter when visibility is blocked, keep forks low, and be aware of tailspin and clearance when turning.

Photo by: ProEnclosures

Mechanical Failures

Regular maintenance is crucial to prevent mechanical failures in forklifts. Causes include worn brakes, fluid leaks, and damaged tires. Prevention involves conducting pre-shift inspections, enrolling in a preventative maintenance program, and pulling faulty equipment from service until repairs are made.

Emission Poisoning

While battery-powered forklifts are becoming popular, internal combustion (IC) forklifts still pose emission risks. Causes of emission poisoning include operating in confined spaces, poor ventilation, excessive idling, incorrect fuel mixtures, and leaking exhausts.

Prevention involves ensuring operators understand the risks of confined spaces, installing ventilation systems, using carbon monoxide monitors, and scheduling regular maintenance.

Crushing Incidents

Crushing hazards are a significant cause of injuries and fatalities. Causes include inattentive backing, being crushed by the mast while tilting, and loose materials falling off the forks. Prevention involves scanning surroundings before moving, avoiding driving towards pedestrians near fixed objects, and securing loads properly.

 Photo by: ProEnclosures

National Forklift Day

As we observe National Forklift Safety Day, understanding and preventing common forklift accidents is crucial. By implementing these safety measures, we can significantly reduce the risks associated with forklift operations. What forklift hazards do you encounter in your daily work? What steps have you or your company taken to promote safe forklift operations? Share your experiences and help foster a safer working environment for all.



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