Forklifts are extremely useful within a workplace, as long as they are used safely and appropriately, however forklifts can be very dangerous and if you don’t follow the basic fundamentals of safely using a forklift, you can cause a workplace accident.
We’ve put together some forklift safety tips to help you and those you work with stay safe around forklifts.
Operators must hold a forklift license
Operating a forklift should only be done by individuals who hold the appropriate license and have undertaken appropriate training.
Examine forklift before use
Operators should do a routine check of the forklift before commencing use.
Things to check for any faults include brakes, tyres, mast, steering, controls and warning devices.
If you notice any damage or have any concerns, you should speak to your supervisor and the forklift should not be operated until repaired.
Wear appropriate safety work wear
Appropriate safety work wear whilst operating a forklift usually consists of a hi-visibility jacket, safety shoes and a hard hat. No loose clothing to be worn to prevent it being caught in the gears or controls and always ensure your hands are clean and dry as you can easily cause an accident with wet or greasy hands.
Check that you’re ready to go before starting
Before starting the forklift, the operator should ensure that the seat position and mirrors are operated to suit their needs and that all equipment controls are in reach.
The operator should not start the forklift until they are correctly seated, with their seat belt fastened and all parts of their body are safely inside the confines of the forklift.
Ensure your load is secure and stable
Before moving the forklift, check the load carefully before moving them for stability. If it is not secure or stable, do not life the load. Use rope or bindings for extra securing if required.
Ensure the load is tilted back with the forks sitting low whilst transporting to increase forklift stability.
Check your designated path for any overhead objects before lifting and stacking loads.
Pay attention – be alert and attentive
When operating a forklift, it is imperative that the operator is always alert and attentive to their surrounding environment.
Avoid hazards on the floor; slippery or unstable surfaces, bumps, holes etc. as this may make the load shift and topple.
Direct your forklift forward when driving up ramps but, go downhill in reverse.
Keep a safe distance from people and other trucks and alert others of your presence by using the horn or your voice.
Always check carefully before turning or backing up the vehicle.
Ensure you have clear visibility
It is vital for the operator to have clear visibility. If visibility is poor, do not continue driving and if necessary, ask someone to assist you and be the ‘look out’.
A forklift is not a joy-ride
The only person on the forklift should be the operator, unless another seat is fitted safely to the forklift. If you need to lift someone, a securely attached work platform/cage is the only way – and you must follow appropriate operating instructions.
Reverse down ramps, especially while carrying loads
When you are driving down a ramp, you must do it in reverse – particularly while carrying loads. When driving up ramps, you move in a forward direction.
Steer clear of the mast
The operator should ensure no one is standing or walking below the load or the forklift as the load can fall, causing an injury or death.
The operator should ensure hands and feet are clear of the cross members of the mast at all times.
Don’t overload, and evenly distribute your load
It is important that the operator knows the capacity of the forklift and any attachments being used and not exceeding this capacity.
An overload can cause the forklift to tip over as the rear tyres might lift.
Prior to moving or lifting a load, the operator should ensure that both forks are fully under the load.
Use pallets and skids that can withstand the weight of the load.