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How you can avoid major forklift accidents

Supplier: Remax Products
20 February, 2014

Forklifts cause around 100 fatalities, 34,000 accidents resulting in serious injury and 61,000 non-serious accidents every year.

With this in mind we have created a list of four protective measures you need to implement in 2014 to minimise the risk of forklift accidents in your facility.

1. Seatbelts

It is not just on the open road that seatbelts can be lifesavers, the use of Forklift Safety Procedures seatbelts in forklifts can also save lives. The major lifesaving function of a seatbelt in a forklift is a different role to its normal use for impacts. Seatbelts in forklifts are most useful when the machine tips over.

Of all forklift fatalities, it is estimated that 42 per cent come from tipping vehicles, where often the operator jumps out. In their attempt to escape the vehicle, the operator gets caught and crushed under the vehicle or load. By requiring all operators to wear seatbelts and keep them on, in the instance of tipping you can drastically reduce the risk of casualties in your workplace.

2. Training

Along with wearing seatbelts drivers should be trained to lean away from the ground in the case of tipping, for example, if they are falling left they should lean right and vice versa. Simple rules such as these can save lives in the case of an accident.

Training has an important role in all facilities and particularly those that use forklifts, it can prevent or reduce the severity of accidents related to tipping and all other incidents. Instruction should include more than just a basic teaching of operation; it should include safety procedures, best practices and emergency situations.

Having a list of things that need to be remembered in a well frequented area such as the cafeteria door or main entry door can also be a good tactic to constantly remind workers of their training.

3. Reliable Equipment

It is important that all your equipment is functioning well. The average useful life of a lift truck is on 6 years, after that, lift-trucks can become dangerous for the operator and all those around it. This length varies across different machines for several reasons outlined below.

  • Type of forklift
  • Maintenance it receives
  • The number of hours it is used each week
  • The difficulty of the task it must perform.

For a further example, electric forklifts have a longer life due mainly to having less moving parts, and one that had low hour usage on it would last even longer. Below is a chart by Hyster, a forklift manufacturer, that gives an average lifespan of several different types of forklift. 

4. Warehouse Design

The final element crucial in preventing accidents is the design of your warehouse. These are specifically:

Wide lanes

These are crucial in reducing collisions both between vehicles and with the racks and vehicles. Narrow lanes demand more from your drivers and can cause serious problems.

Bollards, guard rails and bump rails

These can be useful in protecting important parts of the warehouse and rub points. They reduce the chance of damage and wear and therefore extend the life of both your lifts and your facility. You should put bollards around things such as door mechanisms or high traffic pedestrian areas.

Signage and warning devices

Use signs, convex mirrors, reflective markings to provide better visibility for predestrians and equipment operators.