Powered industrial trucks, aka forklifts, are found in workplaces every in all kinds of industries. These vehicles weigh thousands of pounds, posing serious risks when not operated with care and standards are not followed.
Below we have compiled a list of best practices for keeping workers and operators safe around forklifts.
Conduct inspections: OSHA requires all forklifts to be examined at least daily before they are placed in service. If a forklift is used on a round-the-clock basis, examinations must happen after each shift. Both a pre-start visual check and an operation check should be conducted, and if any issues are found the forklift cannot be put into service. During a daily inspection, operators should check tires, leaks, transmission, fluid, pedals, etc. Check out our full daily inspection checklist for what forklift components must be examined. Additionally, there should be a maintenance schedule in place to keep forklifts in good working condition.
Post a speed limit: The slower a forklift travels, the more time the operator has to react without causing a catastrophe. Speeding forklifts can cause a multitude of accidents, including injuring other workers or damaging property. In order to combat this, a safe speed limit should be established and posted around the facility and you may even decide to enforce a slower speed in areas with pedestrians.
Utilize safety signs: Visual cues are key to safety and posting signs can remind workers of safe procedures. Clear and easy-to-see signs aisle markings, stop signs, and safety reminders should be posted around the workplace. Additionally, use signs to warn pedestrians of forklift traffic and forklift crossings.
Create a traffic pattern: Establish a traffic pattern in your facility to ensure forklifts and pedestrians are traveling safely. One of the best ways to do this is with yellow floor tape. Use the floor tape to establish specific lanes for forklifts and safe paths for those walking to follow. Navigation will be much easier for forklift operators and the risk of accidents will significantly decrease.
Understand load basics: Carrying loads improperly leads to a number of hazards. Operators need to be trained to carry their load low, keep the blades low, and how the load needs to be centered. Keeping a stable load means safe transportation and reducing the risk of tip overs.
Remember, this list is by no means exhaustive. OSHA has set their own regulations for proper safety practices and training that must take place before an operator can begin driving a forklift. To see a full list of OSHA standards for forklifts, please see their standard 1910.178.
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