Top Five Safety Tips to Keep In Mind While Operating a Forklift
According to OSHA, more than 1 in 10 forklifts are involved in an accident annually. This results in nearly 35,000 serious injuries every year. Forklifts weigh in at more than 3 tons and can be a dangerous machine if not operated properly. Below are our top 5 tips to keep you safe!
- Examine your Forklift
Check the general condition and cleanliness of the forklift, oil and fuel levels, radiator water level and electrical condition. If you notice any exposed wires, missing bolts, bent forks or damaged guards do not operate the forklift. Instead, notify a mechanic or your shift manager to ensure the machinery is correctly repaired.
- Evaluate your Environment
Scan the floor around you and clear any objects that are in your path. Look up note any overhead obstructions that could cause an accident. Also, double check that safety equipment most notably a fire extinguisher – is present and in working order. Finally, when you begin operating the forklift, be sure to consistently scan for people paying particular attention when you back-up or go around corners.
- Know your Capacity
Each forklift has a recommended and maximum load limit. You should be aware of this information before operating your forklift. You can locate this information on the data plate of the lift truck. Never exceed the maximum load limit. Once you understand your capacity limitations, you should focus on correctly balancing your load.
- Load Correctly
Position the load according to the recommended load center. To calculate a load center, simply measure the load to be carried and divide it by two (providing the load is evenly distributed). From here, position the load from butt to the forklift backrest. Keep the load close to the front wheels, as this keeps the forklift stable. Never overload a forklift.
- Maintain Control
Once you have your load balanced, it is important that you transport it safely. Key factors include transporting loads as low as possible from the floor and tilting the load slightly back, decreasing speed when turning corners (also honking your horn when approaching a turn), lifting the load straight until it is clear, and setting your brakes anytime the machine is stopped.