Forklift Safety Training 101

Forklift safety training is one of the most important and effective things that a company can provide to employees to keep them safe. Just about every manufacturing facility, warehouse, and shipping facility has one or more of these vehicles in operation, making them a serious risk to safety if not managed properly. Creating an effective forklift safety training program for your facility does not have to be difficult, and this article will give you some information to help get you started.

Hazards Associated with Forklifts

Forklift accidents are one of the leading causes of injury and even death in the workplace. Some forklift related statistics from OSHA that can help to show the importance of focusing on forklift safety may be helpful in justifying the time and money spent on this type of training.

  • On average, 85 deaths occur because of forklift accidents each year.
  • One out of ever six deaths in the workplace will involve a forklift.
  • Of the forklift related deaths, 42% will be due to a forklift being overturned and crushing someone.
  • Over 60,000 non-serious injuries related to forklifts are reported each year.
  • Nearly 35,000 serious injuries related to forklifts are reported each year.

It is clear that forklifts have the potential to cause serious safety issues in the workplace. Fortunately, these risks can be minimized by making sure everyone gets the forklift safety training that they need.

Who Needs Forklift Safety Training?

One of the first things that you should look at when evaluating the need for this type of training is who will need to receive it. All forklift operators will obviously need to go through safety training, but that is just the beginning. Anyone who works in an area where forklifts are operating should also get their own customized training.

Forklift operators must receive at least the minimum amount of training required by OSHA in order to get their forklift operator’s certificate. This training needs to be performed once every three years. Providing them with additional training, however, is allowed and highly recommended. Many companies find that creating an operator’s training course that goes over specific information related to their facility is very helpful.

Next, those who work around forklifts should be shown how they can protect themselves and others. For example, employees should be shown where potential blind spots around a forklift may be. In addition, they should be shown how to properly load and unload a forklift to avoid the risk of it getting overturned. There are many other ways that non-operators can be trained on how to improve forklift safety as well.

Create and Enforce Forklift Safety Policies

If your facility has any forklifts, it is critical that you create policies around how, when, and where they should be used. In addition to simply making the policies, it is critical that they are strictly enforced so that nobody is tempted to break them. Some of the most important forklift safety policies to have in place include the following:

  • Ride in Seats Only – While it can be tempting to let someone ride on the forks of a forklift, this must never be permitted. Those riding in a forklift must only ever use the designated seats where they can be strapped in.
  • Strict Speed Limit – Establish a set speed limit for forklift drivers to travel at within the facility. Even if nobody is around, that speed limit should not be exceeded.
  • No Traveling with Elevated Loads – The safest way to travel with a forklift is to have the load lowered down to approximately 4 inches off the ground. Traveling with an elevated load dramatically increases the risk of the forklift tipping over.
  • Always Balance Loads – When loading up a forklift it is necessary to keep everything balanced. If to much weight is put on one side or the other, the risk of tipping during a turn is heightened.
  • Pedestrians Have the Right of Way – Pedestrians always have the right of way. That being said, pedestrians are also responsible for remaining alert and keeping a safe distance from any forklift in operation.
  • Follow Floor Markings – Using floor markings to direct forklift operators is a very common and smart practice. Forklift operators should always follow the instructions as indicated on the floor markings.

Continuous Forklift Safety Training

It is not enough to simply come up with some policies and train employees on them. Everyone should be given regularly scheduled safety training to make sure they are up to date with the latest safety standards. This will also help to serve as a refresher so nobody forgets how they can best stay safe when working around forklifts.

Additional Resources