Focus on 4 Forklift Hazards

Forklifts
by ckilbourne

There are numerous hazards associated with forklift operations. Do your operators know about these four common forklift hazards and how to avoid them? If not, they are at risk for forklift accidents, which can result in injuries, damage, or even death.

4 Forklift Hazards

Unattended Forklift
  • Attachments
  • Pedestrians
  • Work environment
  • Loads

Attachments

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.

Pedestrians

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

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.

Loads

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

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. Please share this list with your operators and anyone else who may be exposed to forklift hazards.

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