Because forklifts weigh at least 9,000 pounds, they’re extremely dangerous. Forklifts can move at 18 miles per hour, have one set of brakes, and are hard to stop. Since the weight of a forklift is unevenly distributed, it’s more difficult to drive and operate than a vehicle. Making mistakes while operating a forklift can lead to serious injury or death. Fortunately, proper training can prevent a significant number of accidents. Here are seven forklift safety tips that could save your life.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
Never use drugs or alcohol before or while operating a forklift. This includes prescription medication such as Oxycontin or other opioid pain killers, antihistamines that can cause drowsiness, sedatives, Adderall, Ritalin, muscle relaxants, or other drugs that alters your judgment and reflex time. Because driving a forklift is dangerous work, you must be extremely alert.
Warn Forklift Drivers, Pedestrians, and Vehicles About Each Other
Improve the safety of forklift drivers, pedestrians, and vehicles by warning them when they may come into contact. Put up forklift marking signs and marking tape to show pedestrian and forklift lanes and areas. Hang signs that warn about forklift crossings, so pedestrians and vehicles remain alert.
Angle the Forklift Blades Upward
After loading the forklift, be sure you angle the blades upward. When they’re tilted higher in the front and lower in the back, gravity holds the items to the back of the blades. The pallet cannot slide off the front and potentially injure someone. If the load slips on the pallet, it will slide back onto the forklift and be supported.
Keep the Blades Low
Even when there’s no load, keep the blades low. If you accidentally run into a person, you’ll most likely injure their legs. If the blades are high, you can impale the person’s abdomen or chest, which may result in death.
Drive Backward If You Cannot See
If the load’s too high and you can’t see where you’re going, drive backward. If you raise the load above your line of sight, you might lose the items or tilt over the forklift. When driving backward, keep an eye to the sides and front, so you don’t hit anything with the pallet or blades.
Watch for Overhangs
Stay alert for doorframes and overhangs. The height of the forklift, its lift, and boxes could be too high and catch in a door frame or other overhanging item. If the item is stronger or heavier than the forklift, you could flip backward and get injured.
Set the Emergency Brake
Always set the emergency brake after stopping the forklift. Failure to do so may cause thousands of pounds to unexpectedly roll away and cause injury or death.