You would think forklift safety training and forklift licenses would be a given for all businesses. After all, operating a forklift is fairly dangerous work. Forklifts are large pieces of machinery with a number of moving parts and quite a bit of power. While they make many tasks much easier, there is a high risk of injury and property damage if something goes wrong during forklift operation.

Forklifts can cause damage when items slip off the tynes or become torn or punctured by them. This can cause the loss of product as well as the spillage of solvents, chemicals or other hazardous substances. Forklift operator error and accidents cost time and money. They may also result in injury or even death. Around 28.5% of all workplace fatalities are caused by a falling or tipping forklift load, and around 34% of worker fatalities in 2015 were drivers of heavy machinery. These operator errors also cause a stunning 2 billion dollars in damaged products per year.

Forklift injuries cause around 85 fatalities and 35,000 serious injury accidents per year. Averaging all stats for both serious and minor injuries, this means that well over 10 percent of all forklift users will be involved in some kind of accident in the coming year.

The most common causes of fatal forklift accidents include:

  • The forklift tipping over and crushing the operator: 42%
  • Crush injury between the forklift and a surface besides the ground: 25%
  • Crush injury between 2 forklifts: 11%
  • Being struck or run over by a forklift: 10%
  • Struck by falling material being carried by a forklift: 8%
  • Falling from a forklift platform: 4%

When it comes to fatalities from forklift accidents, over 42% occur during the manufacturing process. This is not surprising due to the prevalent use of forklifts in this industry.

Close to 24% of major forklift accidents occur in the construction industry, 12.5% in the wholesale trade industry, 11% in the transport industry, 9% in retail trade and just over 1% of forklift accidents occur in the mining industry.

Forklift Operator Training Reduces Accidents, Fatalities

Fatalities and major accidents can occur in just about every industry that requires a forklift for operation and the transport of goods and materials. However, numerous studies have indicated that many, many forklift accidents can be prevented with proper forklift training.

As you can see, forklift driver safety training is crucial. It can minimize accidents and fatalities on the job while also reducing financial losses from damaged goods. Forklift drivers who operate this machinery without training pose an immediate danger to both themselves and everyone in the work area.

What should be covered in a driver forklift training course?

Basic Operations

All of the controls of the forklift will be fully demonstrated in the operator training. Drivers will be able to ask questions and have any elements that are unclear clarified.

Identifying Malfunctions

With awareness of basic operations, the driver will also be able to identify if/when there is a problem with one or more of the forklift’s components. These issues can then be appropriately addressed and the risk of accidents due to forklift malfunction will be reduced.

Retaining Balance

One of the most common, dangerous and deadly forklift operator accidents is when a forklift tips over. Some of the crucial elements of avoiding this type of accident include:

  • Keeping the load as low to the ground as possible.
  • Manage elevated loads appropriately to avoid tipping over.
  • If the forklift does tip, never attempt to jump off it. Staying buckled up and on the forklift shows a higher rate of survival and a lower rate of injury than attempting to jump from it.

This training will also include education on how basic physics work and basic forklift load management based on these principles.

Knowledge of Best Practices

Lower forklift accident rates for a range of companies are linked with a driver’s keen awareness of the best practices when using the machine. Some of the most important forklift operator best practices include:

  • Always wearing the safety belt.
  • Keep forklift always within safe speeds for the job and the machine.
  • Use the horn while backing up or approaching blind spots.
  • Keep loads at least 152mm off the floor.
  • Maintain optimal visibility at all times.
  • Use a spotter if visibility is temporarily impaired in the work area.
  • Don’t overload the forklift’s listed capacity.
  • Have equipment serviced regularly.
  • Replace old, inefficient equipment with state of the art machinery that has the latest in safety features.

Safety benefits for your workplace

While all drivers must have a license from a RTO, implementing a comprehensive forklift driver safety training course can help your enterprise to be as safe and efficient as possible in the warehouse or on the work site. In addition to the obvious safety benefits, providing in-house training to your employees will mean your business will have:

  • More proficient workers
  • Cleaner operations
  • Greater productivity
  • Less down time
  • Increased equipment life
  • Less property damage

A safe operation is paramount to the success of a business. Safety keeps a business viable and helps contribute to continued profits down the road. Since workers tend to reflect the attitude of the business owners and management, it is important to make safe forklift use a priority at the highest levels. If you haven’t yet implemented a forklift driver training course for your workers, it’s time to do so.