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Forklift Safety

Across the country, there are literally thousands upon thousands of forklifts. Some are used in warehouses, some on platforms, and some on docks. Forklifts are also used by all types of industries, adding value to the days work. In truth, a company that uses forklifts is saving time and thus, money. Although forklifts are extremely valuable for performance and efficiency, they also come with risks. When these risks are not taken seriously, injury and sometimes death can occur. This article will help educate about forklift safety, teaching ways to be productive without having an injured employee.

Let us start with the some background information. Every single year, there are approximately 100 people killed in forklift accidents. In addition to that, more than 20,000 people seriously injured. One of the most common problems relates to a forklift turning over. While there are other types of accidents that can cause injury and death, forklift turnovers account for about 25%.

Just in the United States alone, from 1980 to 1994, 1,021 employees were dilled from injury suffered from forklift-related accidents. The National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) Surveillance System breaks this down as follows:
  • Forklift Overturns 22%
  • Worker walking about and struck by forklift 20%
  • Worker crushed by forklift 16%
  • Falling from forklift 9%
The key to keeping employees safe that will be working on or near a forklift is by educating them. However, for this to happen, employees need to be educated and made to follow the rules. One of the most important things you need to do is ensure every employee goes through a thorough training program. These programs should align with OSHA regulations and be strictly enforced. As a part of the training, the employee that would be operating the forklift must be licensed and undergo occasional evaluations on performance. The training covered would include things such as seat belts, loading and unloading, alarms, maintenance, overhead protective structures, and so on.
  • For the maintenance of the forklift, OSHA also has strong rules in which the forklift would need to be examined prior to the forklift being used. This type of maintenance check is required every day and after every shift. If problems are identified during this check, it must be reported and the forklift fixed prior to using again. For the operation, OSHA is even stricter, outlining very specific rules as follows:
  • Regardless of the grade, loading and unloading involves the truck being tilted back (if applicable) and then raised, but just as far as is needed for the road surface to be cleared.
  • The forklift forks will not raised or lowered anytime when the forklift is moving
  • Regardless of travel conditions, the forklift must be operated at the speed permitted for a safe and quick stop
  • The forklift operator must slow down and sound the horn whenever he or she crosses an aisle or any location with low to no visibility
  • The forklift operator is required to make sure he or she has a clear view of the pathway being traveled
  • Any unauthorized employees are never permitted to ride on the forklift
As you can see, OSHA has VERY strong influence and the laws must be followed. With the right training and follow through, you can keep your warehouse employees safe while performing their job.

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