Safe work conditions are paramount to long term business success. Clients and all staff must have the assurance of being safe in the workplace. This applies with even more relevance to businesses that use heavy machinery, such as in the manufacturing and warehousing sectors. Forklift safety should be a priority for any company that uses them.

Each year in Australia, 28.5% of workplace fatalities across all industries and sectors are caused by forklift accidents. Also, more than $2 billion in business products are damaged because of forklift loads sliding, shifting and falling off their tynes.

Safe work in manufacturing and warehousing must include forklift safety rules and standards. The following is an overview of forklift safety for forklift owners and operators.

Forklift Safety For Forklift Owners and Operators

1. Optimal Training

Persons who operate a forklift should:

  • Hold a high risk work forklift licence.
  • Have the requisite training to hold this licence from an RTO (Registered Training Organisation).
  • Have appropriate assistance and supervision as required.

2. Safety Checks Before Each Use

Before the forklift is operated, the operator should conduct a thorough safety assessment each time. Both the forklift and any attachments should be checked. Your business should have a comprehensive checklist to follow for all users.

Basic operational safety should be followed, including:

  • Drive at a manageable speed
  • Always look in the direction the forklift is headed
  • Seek help around blind corners or when vision is blocked
  • Keep hands and legs inside the cab
  • DO NOT use mobile phones while operating a forklift
  • Avoid all extraneous distractions
  • Stay keenly aware of any other persons nearby
  • Communicate your movement intentions clearly
  • Sound horn to alert other vehicles or personnel
  • Drive with forklift arms and tynes as close to the ground as possible, tips slightly upward
  • Be flexible and ready to change your driving style with changing conditions
  • Don’t accelerate, decelerate or turn too rapidly
  • Be sure loading trailers or trucks are secured before loading
  • Watch for signs of fumes or leakage with propane-powered forklifts
  • Use extra care when working near electric or power lines
  • Never use a forklift as a platform to gain extra height
  • Follow all safety procedures when parking, dismounting and securing and storing the forklift after use.

3. Manage Traffic Around the Site

Since the majority of forklift accidents involve pedestrians, managing the traffic around the main usage areas is paramount. There should be clearly delineated paths for both forklifts and pedestrians. Persons venturing outside of designated walkways should wear high visibility work wear. Blind spots should be minimized and restricted areas highlighted.

4. Use of Safety Belts

It is imperative that forklift operators wear their seat belt and/or other restraint systems. Safety restraints keep the operator in the cab in the event of a tip over and prevent being thrown from the seat.

To avoid tipping over – which is the most common forklift accident – forklift operators should avoid the following:

  • Excessive speeds, especially when turning
  • Overloading the forklift in terms of weight and/or height
  • Heavy braking
  • Driving the forklift on sloped surfaces
  • Using ramps load forward
  • Turning while on ramps.

5. Use Lift Attachments

Adding heavy or awkward loads can be assisted with lift attachments. Forklift operators should be trained in how to use these mechanisms and abide by usage recommendations for these assistive devices. Additional training should be provided to operators as needed.

Creating and maintaining safe work conditions requires some effort and planning, but doing is crucial to an effective workplace. Forklift safety is paramount to success in the manufacturing and warehousing space. Use this guide as a basis for optimising your workplace for staff, clients and your supplies and merchandise.

Adding GenieGrips to your forklift tynes can bring an added layer of safety to your workplace. GenieGrips provide cushioning for the tynes of your forklifts to make them more stable and secure while transporting loads and are made of high quality steel and covered in reinforced rubber for maximum durability. Contact us today for more information.