5 Ways to Prevent Forklift Accidents
Forklift accidents have a devastating effect on warehouses – and they happen more often than you think. In the United States, there are nearly 97,000 serious forklift-related injuries each year – 100 are fatal. Whether an accident results in an injured worker or loss of product, an accident always puts a spotlight on safety. Every warehouse should be proactive about preventing forklift accidents by empowering and educating their employees on proper operation and protocols.
Here are five ways to prevent forklift accidents and promote warehouse safety.
1. Keep up on training. OSHA requires companies to have a safety training program for any forklift operator, but it’s in a business’ best interest to give training on forklift safety to all employees working in the vicinity of forklifts. It’s estimated about 705 of forklift accidents could be prevented by proper training. Making safety a priority takes consistent reinforcement and employee buy-in. Implementing a structured training for all employees on forklift safety is a starting point. A once-a-year refresher training, in addition to new employee training, keeps everyone on the same page.
2. Have a clean, organized warehouse. A clean, organized warehouse is the foundation of a safe warehouse. Obstruction in lanes not only impedes efficiency, but also forces drivers to make sudden and erratic movements to avoid debris. This could potentially lead to an accident. Clear lanes, free from product, trash, or other obstructions, should be maintained at all times. In addition, look around your warehouse to ensure all areas are well-lit. Visibility, on the side of a forklift driver and pedestrians, is vital for safe operation, so make sure lightbulbs are replaced and all areas have good lighting.
3. Enhance safety mechanisms. Design a warehouse that keeps safety in focus by incorporating products that enhance visibility and communication. For example, install blue safety lights on the front and back of forklifts so pedestrians have a clear visual cue of an approaching forklift. Place mirrors at aisle corners to improve visibility. If possible, aisles and lanes should be wide enough to safely accommodate pedestrians and forklifts.
4. Operate well-maintained forklifts. Routine safety inspections of a forklift should be done before a driver begins his shift. A driver should check for leaks (fuel, hydraulic oil, engine oil, radiator coolant), ensure proper tire inflation, and visually inspect fork mechanism, hydraulic hoses, and engine belts. If any issues are found, a qualified mechanic should correct them before the forklift resumes operation.
5. Maintain loading and unloading procedures. Heavy or poorly stacked loads, high speeds, or an unmaintained loading dock can contribute to forklift accidents. These conditions can lead to a far too common type of forklift accident: an overturned forklift. Enforce a maximum speed for forklift operation throughout a warehouse and ensure drivers use extreme caution in the loading dock area. Pallets should be uniformly stacked whenever possible and overall weight and stacked height should be taken into consideration when building pallets.