Implement These Strategies To Avoid Forklift Injuries
A forklift transports and lifts loads with precision. However, its use can become a safety hazard to other operators, property, goods, and other staff. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) about 85 people lose their lives and 34,900 get serious injuries related to forklifts. Most of these accidents result from lacking proper safety guidelines in place. Here are some strategies you should consider to limit forklift-related injuries in your workplace.
Most forklift accidents in the workplace result from operators lacking appropriate training. OSHA recommends hiring only operators with industry certification. Becoming a certified forklift operator requires completing a course after every three years. This ensures that the operator is at par with market standards and guidelines regarding safety. Employers have to evaluate operators before taking them on. Additionally, recertification is necessary backed by periodic supplementary training using videos, lectures, or demonstrations is necessary.
Operators have to thoroughly inspect the trucks before use daily. This should be backed by daily checks from the shift supervisor to be sure that the trucks have no defects or other problems. The checks allow identifying equipment that needs repair. The checklist during forklift inspection should include:
- Check overhead guard and mast for damage
- Ensuring the forks are straight and without cracks and distortion
- Checking for oil, water, or radiator leaks
- Examining fluid levels including engine, coolant, hydraulic, brake, and fuel
- Checking operating controls including horn, steering wheel, lights, and brakes
Clear visibility forward is very important for the operator. One way to ensure this is to keep the forks near the ground. Additionally, operating the truck in reverse eliminates the chances of load restricting visibility. Having a good view of the rack is very important during load positioning.
You should also invest in buy led safety light . This allows other operators to realize an oncoming forklift. The safety light also alerts pedestrians about an approaching forklift to give them a chance to take cover. Other visibility requirements according to OSHA include:
- Making eye contact with other operators and pedestrians
- Looking in the direction of travel
- Boosting visibility by using the rear-view mirrors
- Using headlights where necessary
It is very important to have a dress code that focuses on limiting injuries in the workplace. Forklift operators should dress in appropriate safety wear including high visibility jackets to avoid collisions, safety shoes to protect the feet, and hard hats to protect the head. This should be maintained all the time. Additionally, operators should tuck in all loose clothing to avoid getting caught in the truck.
Another solution to avoid forklift-related injuries is to consider floor markings in red or yellow. This requires marking all physical hazards including areas where loads might fall or the operator might stumble. Additionally, red markings delineate fire equipment, fire hazards, and emergency switches to limit forklift injuries. Placing signs and wayfinders throughout the workplace to show forklift paths, enhance traffic flow, or direction of safe routes.
Every forklift and appropriate attachments have the maximum load they can hold. Moving weight exceeding the recommended capacity of the truck is a bad idea. This is likely to make the forklift’s rear wheels go up in the air leading to falling over. When this happens, there is a risk of severe injury to the operator, damage to property or equipment. You can avoid this by encouraging sticking to recommended forklift capacity.
A forklift can handle lifting and moving various loads. So, when loading, balance is very important. The load should tilt backward with the forks low. Doing this increases truck capacity when maneuvering ramps. Where necessary, secure heavy loads or stacks by using secure stacks or bamboo. Equally important is to ensure that the skids and pallets for use to match the load.
Refueling, recharging, and parking
All trucks need full recharge and fueling before use. However, you need a designated area in your workplace for recharging and refueling. Ensure that this area is free from flames and is well ventilated. Operators need to be very careful every day to ensure that the trucks are switched off before refueling.
After every shift, the operator should park the truck in a designated area. The parking area shouldn’t block other trucks or obstruct entrances and exits. Operators should do the following for safe parking.
- Lower the forks to the ground
- Turn off the engine
- Apply parking brake
- Remove the key from the ignition
Operators should drive the forklifts at the recommended speed. The rule of thumb is not to turn, change directions abruptly, stop, or move swiftly while making sharp turns. All these actions encourage tipping over. In case a forklift begins to dip, operators should avoid jumping from the truck but grip the wheel and brace the feet.
Equally important is to keep a safe following distance. It is very important to keep a safe distance to encourage safe stops and collisions with other trucks. People in the workplace should avoid standing below load, forklift attachment, or lifting mechanism. Equally important is for the operator to keep their hands away from the mast since movement might cause severe injury.
Forklifts make work easier but need to have safety protocols in place. Investing in safety lights and operators to have OSHA certification are some of the ways to limit injuries in the workplace.
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