Focus on Forklift Hazards and Prevent Injuries and Damage

by ckilbourne

There are numerous hazards associated with forklift operations. Do your operators know what they are and how to avoid them?

Forklift operators need to understand all the potential hazards to perform their jobs in a safe and appropriate manner and prevent accidents and injuries—to themselves or other workers.

Today, we’ll focus on four issues that frequently lead to forklift accidents, injuries, and damage:

  • Attachments
  • Pedestrians
  • Work environment
  • Loads


Forklift attachments such as carton clamps, drum clamps, paper-roll clamps, rotators, and push-pull elements can affect the capacity of a forklift in a number of ways, including:

  • Attachments can change operating clearances by extending the length and width of the forklift.
  • Attachments can change the capacity of the forklift by adding weight. For example, if the attachment weighs 1,000 pounds, the capacity of the load you can carry is reduced by 1,000 pounds.
  • Attachments usually change the stability and center of gravity of the forklift. For example, if an attachment moves the load away from the vertical face of the forks that will reduce the maximum load the forklift can carry.


Most accidents with forklifts involve pedestrians. The most obvious causes of accidents involving pedestrians include:

  • Having an obstructed view—the operator cannot see the pedestrian because of a load or an obstruction in the path
  • Turning the forklift toward a pedestrian who is in front of or alongside the forklift
  • Speeding, so that the forklift can’t stop in time to avoid the pedestrian
  • Being unaware of pedestrians in the area
  • Carrying passengers on the forklift

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Work Environment

Some forklift hazards are caused by the conditions present in the environment where the forklift is operating. For example:

  • Using a combustible fuel-operated forklift in a poorly ventilated area, which could allow the buildup of carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide from the forklift
  • Operating in an environment with ramps, which can increase the chance of a forklift accident
  • Crossing railroad tracks, which can unbalance a forklift
  • Operating and braking on slippery floors
  • Operating on dirt and gravel
  • Poor lighting

There are many other possible hazards of a particular work environment that might cause a forklift accident. These include pits or openings in the floor, congested or narrow workspaces, and the presence of flammable and combustible material.

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Load-carrying hazards include:

  • Unstable loads
  • Loads of hazardous materials
  • Carrying a heavy load with the forks too high
  • Working around loading docks
  • Carrying loads that block the forward vision
  • Stacking and unstacking on racks

Tomorrow, we’ll continue to spotlight forklift safety and discuss forklift inspections.



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  1. junaid         
    August 11, 2014 5:52 am

    unstable load: is it a hazard or is it the cause of hazards. i think hazard should be topple over..many others are seems to me causes of hzards