Common Forklift Accidents and How to Avoid Them

Category: Equipment and Solutions

Forklift Safety

A warehouse forklift is a vital resource for your employees, but these machines can lead to fatalities if individuals ignore training procedures. Whether you are a business owner or floor manager, protecting your workers should be a top priority. This involves ensuring that all teams are driving forklifts carefully, and your facility is optimized for heavy-duty equipment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets compliance standards for forklifts. However, it is also helpful to understand why these machines are dangerous and what you can do to reduce the chances of a forklift warehouse incident.

The Importance of Forklift Safety

Depending on the brand and assembly, forklifts can weigh anywhere from 5,000 to 9,000 pounds. Forklift models are usually heavier at the back end. It’s also common for forklifts to only have one set of brakes near the front wheels, making quick stops almost impossible.

Something as simple as overloading a forklift and driving at speeds close to 20 mph can cause a warehouse accident. Therefore, it is essential to know what to look for on the warehouse floor to correct improper techniques.

What Are the Main Causes of Injuries When Using Forklifts?

Here are six ways someone could hurt themselves or others behind the wheel of a forklift.

1. Forklift Overturns or “Rollovers”

OSHA investigates forklift incidents across the United States. One of the most common forklift emergencies is when equipment topples over on its side.

A forklift overturn can occur when users drive too quickly around aisles, use machines on steep inclines or position loads in an unbalanced manner. Preventing a “rollover” requires equipment users to pay attention to the weight limits of their machines. Only operate forklifts on even surfaces and do not drive over potholes, loading ramps and wet floors.

2. Workers Hit or Run Over by a Forklift

Front-loading capabilities create blind spots. This becomes a problem when fulfillment pickers, dockworkers, and other personnel are forced to work in the same zones as heavy equipment operators. Long hours on the job may result in drivers losing focus, leading to a pedestrian impact.

Perform a walk-through of your facility to see how you can increase employee awareness. Then, use floor tape or permanent barriers to designate forklift zones from walking areas. Aisle mirrors and backup alarm systems are other proactive ways to keep pedestrians out of harm’s way.

3. Falling Off Equipment Forks

Under no circumstance should an employee stand on the machine’s forks. Decision-makers can reduce this temptation by supplying workers with the appropriate tools for daily tasks.

If possible, purchase scissor lifts and man lifts — these machines enable workers to elevate themselves to heights from a lifting cage.

4. Falling Loads and Racking Damage

Some warehousing jobs call for forklift users to relocate metal sheets, wooden beams, wiring, and other materials. Any product unable to lock into front-facing forks poses a threat to pedestrians and individuals in the forklift enclosure.

All warehouse equipment must undergo an inspection prior to startup. Forklifts with bent forks should be removed from the work floor immediately to ensure proper lifting. Consider the following to prohibit a falling load:

  • Use shrink-wrap to stop free-standing loads from shifting.
  • Place the heaviest part of the load in the center of a pallet.
  • Have warehouse workers use slow movements when tilting.

5. Poor Operator Training

OSHA requires all equipment operators to be trained and certified in forklift techniques. Skipping training is a mistake that could lead to a hefty fine against your company.

Before employees operate a forklift, enroll them in an OSHA-compliant safety training course. Most programs can be completed in less than one week based on the structure.

6. Machine Operators Unable to See

Operators can drive forklifts forward and backward to accommodate challenging conditions. However, stacking loads too high or driving in a direction in which drivers cannot see may cause a collision with racking systems, merchandise or other equipment.

Use the tips below to eliminate blind spots for fewer warehouse forklift incidents:

  • Only drive forklifts when forks are lowered.
  • Assign a spotter to double-check warehouse aisles for order pickers.
  • Encourage workers to navigate paths in which they can completely see.

Contact RAKA for New and Used Forklift Sales in the Midwest

RAKA is your source for new and used material handling equipment by Cat®, Mitsubishi and other industry-leading brands. Our dedicated sales staff wants to connect you to pneumatic and electrical builds that can streamline your daily objectives.

With nearly 50 years in the business, RAKA is your premier forklift dealer. Complete our contact form for more information about our inventory.

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