Keeping Forklift Operators Safe by Preventing Bad Habits

Category: Equipment and Solutions

Forklift Operator Training

Many forklift operators utilize proper caution while working. However, forklifts are potentially dangerous pieces of machinery, and even brief lapses in judgment can lead to serious consequences. Between 2011 and 2017, there were 614 forklift-related fatalities in the United States and even more nonfatal injuries. One way warehouses can improve forklift operator safety and prevent injuries is by noticing bad operating habits and correcting them early.

Even the most experienced forklift operators can form bad habits when they believe risk is low. However, these habits can stick and lead to bigger risks down the road. To preserve lift truck safety in your warehouse, proactively combat the following forklift operator bad habits.

Skipping Safety Checklists

Safety checklists and routine equipment inspections help ensure that each lift truck is safe for use before the operator enters the cab and starts working. Over time, operators may become less stringent about completing safety checklists every time they operate a forklift. Additionally, operators may ignore a potential warning sign and attempt to complete another task rather than report the issue.

Warehouse supervisors can help address this bad habit by requiring safety checklists before every use of a lift truck and by encouraging employees to report potential mechanical faults immediately, even if doing so will slow or halt productivity.

Rushing Through Tasks

Operators should always drive slowly when on inclines, carrying loads and taking sharp turns. Driving too quickly in a crowded warehouse under any circumstances can cause common lift truck accidents and make those accidents more dangerous for those involved.

Unfortunately, operators who drive forklifts too quickly often do so because they feel pressured to meet deadlines. To prevent this bad forklift operator habit, warehouses must not pressure drivers to work more quickly or punish them for working at a cautious pace. It’s also a good idea to remind recent hires coming from other working environments where speed was emphasized that they do not need to rush through tasks to succeed.

Losing Situational Awareness

Forklift operators may lose situational awareness for a variety of reasons — they may be fatigued or feel that situational awareness is less important due to a lack of other people in the working environment, for example.

If you notice that your forklift operators fail to look behind them when backing up or have close calls with pedestrians or objects, it is essential to point out the bad habit immediately and take action to combat it. One way to prevent loss of situational awareness is to allow for frequent breaks throughout the day.

Breaking Safety Rules and Routines

Other concerning bad habits while operating a forklift include failing to use signals, failing to wear seatbelts and allowing other workers to stand or ride on the lift truck’s fork. It’s important to hold operators accountable for minor safety rule violations and provide regular refresher training to prevent bad habits from forming.

Learn More About Forklift Operator Safety From RAKA

At RAKA, we have been providing the upper Midwest with new, used and rental material handing equipment since the 1970s. As a result, we can offer lift truck safety tips for a variety of industries, as well as safety training to help reduce accidents and prevent damage to your machines. For more information about the equipment and services we offer, reach out to us today.

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