A forklift tipping over due to an unbalanced load or operator error is one of the most common causes of forklift accidents. A full 28.5% of workplace fatalities are caused by falling or tipping forklift loads. It can also result in damaged materials and injury to other workers or clients who are in the area. In fact, as much as $2 billion worth of products are damaged by accidents such as these.*

Forklift Safety Essential to Workplace Safety, Preserving Materials and Products

Forklift safety is one of the most important components of an effective workplace. When using a forklift, workers should begin by performing basic safety checks on the components of the forklift, including the fluids, tyres, controls, warning devices, seating, brakes and mast forks. However, the next area of focus should be on the safety of the load you will be moving with your forklift.

The following are some of the most important safety points to consider related to your forklift load before even starting your engine.

☑️  Load Limit and Capacity

Is the load you will be moving within an acceptable capacity for the equipment you will be operating? Check the load capacity data plates on the forklift for details about maximum capacities. When in doubt, ask someone or consult a user manual online. Use a weight gauge or scale to verify that your load in within a safe weight range.

☑️  Loading Safety

If you will be loading any items, practice safety on the order picking platform. It should have a guardrail to help prevent a fall. If you will be extending your body past the rail, a safety harness or other restraint should be worn.

☑️  Balance and Placement

Is your load placed property and in a balanced way on the forklift? If not, stop everything and reload it. Balance is key. The load should also be kept around 15 cm from the ground or as low as possible.

☑️  Assess Your Load Based Upon the Route

Will your load fit within the route you will be taking to move it to the desired location? Adjust the load as needed, or plan a different driving route.

☑️  Pallet Integrity

Are the pallets you are using stable and in good condition? If not, remove and replace them.

☑️  Is the Area Clear?

Check that your delivery route is clear of objects and people so that you can move your load safely and without impediments or injuries.

☑️  Will You Be Driving On An Incline?

Operation of a forklift and moving loads on an incline requires that the load to be tilted back a bit and raised to ensure balance while traveling up the incline. This adjustments will help to ensure that the surface of the road is cleared. However, never exceed the rated capacity for the forklift you are operating.

Additional considerations for safe management of the forklift and the load

Driver Safety

  • Always wear your seatbelt in the cab and adhere to all speed limits and signs on the premises.
  • Take turns slowly to avoid tipping or losing your forklift load.
  • Avoid turning on ramps, grades and inclines.
  • Sound the horn when turning at blind corners or when backing up.
  • Most forklifts are designed for one person only – the driver. Others should not ride in or on the forklift or on the load.

If You Do Begin to Tip Over

  • If your forklift does start to tip over, never attempt to exit the vehicle while this is occurring. Doing so is one of the biggest causes of worker injury. Your seatbelt should keep you securely in place and increase your chances of avoiding injury.
  • Consider Adding Mats, Caps and Cushions. There are add-on products available today to make forklifts safer and the load less likely to slip off. These products can help to reduce the risk of the load moving on the tines of the forklift and/or becoming unstable while transporting the load. This added measure will assist in making your workplace safer for forklift operators as well as anyone in the work area. These nonslip add-ons will also assist you in better preserving your products and materials as they are in transit on the forklift.

Driving a forklift has risks and dangers that other jobs don’t entail. However, preparedness and awareness can assist forklift operators in doing the job well and keeping themselves and other workers safe throughout the process.

Performing the above safety checks can ensure successful transport of goods and materials, reducing the risk of damage and loss. These safety considerations can make all the difference for the forklift operator, the materials transported and general workplace safety. If you are considering adding GenieGrips® to the tynes of your forklift, Contact Us for more information.

Reference sources:
Worksafe Vic