Forklift: Safety Topics - August 2019 - Week 2


Forklifts are necessary in many processes for helping humans handle heavy loads. Accumulation of traffic and loading hazards generates dangerous risks. This week, we will review risks, training importance, forklift operation and safety checks, and the importance behind reporting and fixing crossroad risks.

Monday                    Forklift Risk

Forklift use presents 2 types of hazards:

  • A traffic hazard with a risk of an impact between a pedestrian and the forklift. This risk can be reduced by an extreme vigilance of both the driver and pedestrian. A strong awareness, low speed, and honking at crossroads are good practices to adopt.
  • An injury hazard from handling a heavy load which creates the risk of fall down or crush injuries. Pay attention to the basic rules of safe loading: the maximum weight the fork can carry, the weight of the load, and the center of gravity.  Always remember the safe handling triangle: ensure a safe distance between the fork/load and people/things in proximity. At the very least, this area should be equal to the height of the load. Always have a “safety free area” all around the load where no one will go. Remember to never try to catch a falling load.

Tuesday                   Driver License

Operating a forklift requires a strong understanding of risks and safe practices. Training must be in line with the type of forklift and loads the operator will be using.  

A forklift driver must be well trained before operating a forklift or powered truck. In some cases, a license must be obtained. Check your state and local requirements. The forklift license requires extensive training and medical exams to rule out anything that can create driving risks, such as vision or hearing problems. Check a potential forklift driver’s personal automobile driver’s license for any violations.

Some forklift suppliers provide individual safety keys that are given after training. Individual keys eliminate the possibility of a forklift being used by another associate who is not trained in forklift operation and is most at risk to have an accident.

Whether or not your facility has this system is place, be on the lookout for keys left in forklifts. While it may be convenient to leave the key on the seat, this practice allows for easy forklift accessibility by untrained personnel. Any found keys must be removed and the driver should be reminded of the associated risks.

Does everyone on your team have a valid personal driver’s license? Do forklift drivers have additional training? Do any forklift drivers have special forklift licenses?

Wednesday            Basics of Safe Driving Practice

When operating a forklift, remember to respect the safety basics:

  • Never exceed maximum weight the forklift can handle
  • Ensure forklift is in good working condition
  • Stay alert when driving and honk at crossroads
  • Watch your speed – especially when carrying a load
  • Do not raise the forks higher than the driver’s knees when seated ( <50 cm/20 inches)
  • Always wear the safety seatbelt

When walking in a forklift zone:

  • Be aware of moving forklifts
  • Do not go in the “safe triangle area”
  • Ensure the driver has noticed you and wait for his instructions before entering the area
  • Check crossroad area before crossing

Despite typical priority rules between pedestrian and driver, in this case, no one has the priority. For each situation, the parties involved must determine who will cross the area first.

Thursday                Check Your Forklift

Forklifts are like any other vehicle on the roads, they commonly require maintenance and encounter issues. If an issue occurs while braking or loading a heavy object, it can be dramatic. To prevent this, check your forklift at the beginning of each shift.

  • Loading System: no leak, system in good condition, no suspect noise
  • Emergency System: working brakes, operational locking system, safety belts in good condition, good tires with grip
  • Signal System: lights, horns, and backwards beep/light are all in good working condition

Run through a checklist and record each control. Address all issues and keep the forklift out of service until issues are resolved.

Friday                      Report Any Risks Right Away

The last element to take into consideration for incident prevention is the environment. Report any safety opportunity or near miss traffic risk. The more issues you fix, the safer your facility becomes for forklift drivers and pedestrians.


Tags: safety culture , injury prevention , osha compliance ,

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