8 Forklift Mishaps and How to Avoid Them

Forklift trucks can be dangerous if they are not operated with care, and it is essential that employees who drive them adhere to safe standards of operation.

According to the National Safety Council, forklifts were the source of 73 work-related deaths in 2022 in the U.S. and 24,960 worker days away from work.

To help you keep your forklift operators sharp, you may want to include this list of the top eight forklift accidents and how to avoid them.

Not knowing the forklift’s load capacity — Carrying a load that is too heavy is a sure-fire way of making the vehicle unstable. Operators should be aware of their forklift’s capacity before they begin to operate it by looking at the data plate found on the truck.

The plate should contain all of the relevant information and should not be tampered with in any way.

Not being aware of your route — Prior to an operator moving through a workplace that has a complex layout or a particularly dynamic environment, they should familiarize themselves with the route and any obstacles they may encounter.

In particular, they should look for any narrow passages or areas where there may be movement that could hinder their progress.

Operating with an unsecured load — Some loads are unstable. For example, a pallet is flat and quite easy to secure, whereas something with an odd or unsymmetrical shape can be more of a challenge. Operators should take extra care when moving objects that could be prone to toppling or affecting maneuverability. 

Not communicating with other workers — Warehouses can be very busy environments, and with so many people trying to accomplish their own tasks, it is important to maintain a high level of communication.

Operators should alert their co-workers in advance about what they are doing and where they plan to go.

Slipping on entry or exit from the forklift —Slips and trips are the most common cause of workplace injuries, and they can happen when entering or exiting a forklift.

Drivers should wear suitable footwear that is not slick with any substances before using the machinery.

Speeding — Speed kills, including with forklifts. And since they are heavier than the average car, they can cause plenty of damage. Moving at a speed that is improper for the forklift or environment is a common cause of accidents in the workplace.

Your drivers should be instructed to limit their speed. Consider installing a device that restricts the forklift’s speed.

Parking incorrectly — Operators should park their vehicles in authorized areas only, where other employees will expect to find stationary forklifts. Remind drivers to lower the fork to the floor, set the direction controls to neutral, lower the parking brake and turn the ignition off. 

Misuse of vehicles — Warn employees to resist any temptation to use forklift trucks for anything other than their specified purpose, no matter what the situation dictates.

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