Keeping Forklifts Safe

The Duty to Care

Even those of us who don’t drive forklifts for a living know how important they are in factories and warehouses all over the world. And while anyone would — and should — approach a forklift with caution and a healthy respect for what it can do, most people probably aren’t aware that every year, more than 20,000 forklift-related injuries occur in the U.S. alone. Not only that, there are countless incidents that involve property damage, including damage to overhead sprinklers, pipes, racks, walls, and machinery.

But it’s actually quite easy to prevent forklift accidents, injuries, and damage if operators follow these tips for keeping forklifts safe.

  • Never let unauthorized personnel ride on forklifts.
  • Never drive forklifts up to anyone standing in front of a bench or other fixed object.
  • Don’t let anyone stand or pass under the elevated portion of any truck, loaded or empty.
  • Keep a safe distance from edges of ramps or platforms while on any elevated dock, platform, or freight car.
  • Never place arms or legs between the uprights of the mast or outside the running lines of the truck.
  • When left unattended, lower the truck’s forks, place the controls in neutral, shut off the power, and set the brakes. Block the wheels if the truck is parked on an incline.
  • Observe all traffic regulations.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of headroom under overhead installations, lights, pipes, or sprinkler systems.
  • Use an overhead guard to protect against falling objects.
  • Slow down and sound the horn at cross-aisles where your vision is obstructed.
  • Yield to all emergency vehicles.
  • Cross railroad tracks diagonally whenever possible.
  • Approach elevators slowly, and then enter them squarely after the elevator car is properly leveled. Once on the elevator, place the controls in neutral, shut off the power, and set the brakes.
  • Ascend or descend grades slowly.
  • When ascending or descending grades greater than 10 percent, drive trucks with the load upgrade.
  • No stunt driving or horseplay.
  • Slow down for wet and slippery floors.
  • Make sure dock boards and bridge plates have been properly secured before they are driven over.
  • With motorized hand trucks, enter elevators with the load-end forward.
  • Only handle stable loads, and never exceed the loaded capacity of the truck.
  • Take all unsafe forklifts out of service.
  • Never fill fuel tanks while the engine is running.
  • Use operator restraint devices, including seat belts, if there is a danger of forklift tip over hazards.

Keep those forklifts — and yourself — safe on the job!

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