A forklift is a manually operated machine used to lift heavy objects on a fork-like structure and move them from one place to another. The forklifts used are quite easy to operate, but it can become dangerous to use such machinery without proper forklift training and knowledge of forklift safety rules. If you are a rookie forklift operator, you need to know about the protection measures and guidelines that will help you safely operate a forklift. It is not just your ordinary vehicle or truck. Using a forklift comes with major chances of accidents. This is the major reason OSHA has penned down forklift safety tips. In the recent survey by OSHA, it has been found that most of the accidents that happen while operating a forklift are caused due to negligence.
Some of the major causes of accidents while operating a forklift is as follows:
- Rash driving
- Rash turning
- Overload weight
- Improper braking and acceleration
- Inadequate training
- Ignorance of safety rules and guidelines
- Poor communication between the driver and the supporter.
- Improper warnings to others about a forklift in use nearby.
- Poor maintenance of the machine
Before starting your forklift operation, it is necessary to inspect the machine yourself and see that every component is in its top-notch condition.
So, how do you operate a forklift safely, and what are the safety rules you should follow? Let’s see.
Following floor marking:
If you are a forklift operator, you know that once you have lifted an object, the field of visibility is limited. You may crash into an object lying in front of you before you know it. Hence, any place that uses a forklift must implement a floor marking system as one of the most important safety tips. Separate floor markers for pedestrians and a different lane for forklift traffic are necessary. This plays a major role in diminishing the number of accidents that happen. Educating the people working on the premises and the forklift drivers about the floor markings is of utmost importance. Keep in mind that the floor markings should be in bright yellow or other bright colors and should catch the eye of the pedestrians and the forklift driver instantly. This is one of the various safety measures OSHA has prescribed to avoid accidents during a forklift operation.
Training Forklift Operators
Operating a forklift is one of the most difficult tasks in a factory or a warehouse. It requires precision, skills, and professionalism to operate a forklift. The one thing that a forklift driver must do in life is complete the training process. Without proper training, operating a forklift will be one of the most challenging things a driver would ever have done. It’s not that using a forklift is the only difficult thing. Without proper training, accidents are bound to happen. When you go under training, you learn the rules and guidelines for operating a forklift.
You get to learn about the signs and precautions you must follow while operating a forklift. A professional training regime will make you aware of the rules, regulations, and OSHA’s preventive measures. With proper training, you can learn to maximize forklift safety. Proper training also enables you to learn about your vehicle’s maintenance and OSHA standards for the operation of Forklifts.
Pay attention to the Forklift’s Stability and follow OSHA standards
One of the major issues seen in the operation of Forklifts is the vehicle’s stability. If the load exceeds the limit allowed by the company, there are huge chances of the machine getting tripped over. Loads that are permissible and inanimate are the only things that should be lifted on a forklift. Using a forklift to lift living objects should be avoided unless provided a safe and secure environment. When placing the load on a forklift, ensure that the load is secured with a rope so that it does not fall and does not lose its stability. Ensuring that the load is balanced is the key to securely lifting a load and moving it from one place to another. Another important aspect of safe and secure forklift operation is maintaining the speed when loaded. If the speed is too high, the inertia will cause the load to go off balance, resulting in a tripped Forklift.
Every forklift has a center of gravity that keeps it from tripping over as long as the weight of the load is within the permissible limit. If you exceed the permissible load limit, the forklift will face chances of tripping as the center of gravity which works to stop the forklift from falling, will not be able to stand the excess weight of the load.
What is Forklift Stability Triangle?
Operators must be familiar with the forklift stability triangle to operate counterbalanced lift trucks. An operator must identify the center of gravity of a loaded truck and ensure it falls within the imaginary triangle that stretches from the front axle to the center of the steer axle to maintain longitudinal, lateral, and dynamic stability.
Forklifts with a three-point suspension have two front tires and an axle at the center of their steer axle, so they are supported at all three places. This is the forklift’s stability triangle if all three points are connected. A load is safe to transport when the center of gravity of the lift truck falls within this triangle.
Since the lift truck’s center of gravity is firmly inside the triangle when no load is present, the lift truck’s center of gravity remains unchanged. The forklift’s center of gravity is almost in the center of its counterbalance since there is no load. The center of gravity moves closer to the front axle when you add weight to the forks. When the center of gravity reaches the front axle, the load can no longer be carried safely due to the edges of the stability triangle.
Do not exceed the permissible weight limit
The most common cause of accidents when operating a forklift is when the driver exceeds the permissible weight limit. Since every forklift has a defined center of gravity that stops the forklift from overturning, if the weight is above the permissible limit, in such cases, the forklift is put at risk along with the driver’s life.
Rash driving with weight loaded on the forklift is another factor that must be taken care of. A forklift with weight loaded on needs to be driven carefully. If the driver makes a rash turn, there is a risk of tripping. If the speed of the forklift is high, the force of inertia will cause the forklift to trip. If the forklift is not well maintained and serviced, that is another factor that can cause the overturning of the forklift. The main reason behind all these accidents is often the exceeded weight load.
How can I improve my forklift safety?
To improve safety when using a forklift, various factors must be considered. Small points such as wearing proper clothing, using floor markings, getting safety certification and training can make considerable changes to the style of forklift operation, changing it for good. Some other ways to improve your forklift safety are inspecting your machine and vehicle daily, maintaining a 360° view, avoiding extra load, avoiding loading any living objects, and ensuring that the path formed by following the floor markings is followed.
What is the most important safety device on a forklift?
Some of the most important safety devices on a forklift are the breaks, seatbelts, horns, and lights. If you plan to become a forklift driver, you need to keep your vehicle and all its components in top-notch condition, especially the brakes, seatbelts, horns, and lights. Since visibility is an issue while lifting load on forklifts, ensuring the good condition of the components must be something of utmost importance.
What is the most common forklift accident?
The most common accident while operating a forklift is overturning. This accounts for almost 24% of the accidents with a high fatality rate. Forklift overturning is quite common and puts the driver’s life in danger. If the load is above the permissible limit, in such cases, forklift overturning occurs as the center of gravity cannot stop the forklift from tripping. Another common accident while operating a forklift is when the driver is not properly trained and fails to comply with OSHA standards.
What is the number 1 cause of forklift accidents?
The top cause of forklift accidents is non-compliance with the OSHA standards. The permissible weight limit for any forklift is mentioned on the machine. Suppose the weight that is over the permissible limit is elevated. In that case, it increases the chance of overturning the forklift, causing a lot of damage to the vehicle as well as putting the driver’s life at risk.