One of the most important concerns when working with industrial lift trucks is forklift safety. Not only are forklifts designed to lift heavy loads that could fall and hurt someone, but forklifts are used in high-risk industries such as manufacturing and construction. Forklift safety is vital for anyone who uses forklifts in their jobs. Here are some important safety tips for forklift operators and employers of forklift operators.
For Forklift Operators
As a forklift operator, the safety of yourself, your equipment and your fellow workers should be your top priority on the job. While you may have received some forklift safety training when you became a certified forklift operator, it never hurts to brush upon forklift safety. Here are some useful forklift safety tips to keep you and everyone around you safe at the worksite.
1. Federal law states that only certified forklift operators who are over 18 years of age are allowed to operate a forklift. This means that you shouldn’t let unauthorized personnel drive your forklift because they might not meet these federal standards.
2. Safety equipment is there for a reason; use it every time. Many forklift manufacturers include important safety features such as seat belts, automated backup alarms and proximity lights. Make sure you use these forklift safety features so that both you and the employees you work with are safe.
3. Be aware of your surroundings. Always look around you before raising or lowering forks and moving your forklift truck. Even with automatic backup alarms, another worker may be standing behind you, and if you don’t check, you may injure them.
4. Always keep your head, your body, your arms and your legs underneath the overhead guard. The guard is there to protect you from falling objects, but it can’t do that if your body parts are exposed. Never extend an arm beyond the guard to wave at a coworker or stick your head out to shout at fellow workers. If an object falls from above you, you could be injured or killed.
5. Never walk, stand or sit underneath the forks when they are raised, and don’t let anybody else do the same. Even if the forklift is turned off and there are no objects on the forks, someone could be injured if they are underneath raised forks.
6. When working with a forklift, be aware of pinch points, or places on the equipment where your hands or your feet could be pinched. This means never place your foot behind a wheel, even when the forklift is turned off, because the wheel could roll back and crush your foot. When performing routine maintenance such as greasing gears or chains, be aware of where your hands are so you don’t get fingers pinched.
7. If your forklift begins to tilt, don’t panic and never attempt to jump from the cab. The cab of the forklift is reinforced and designed to protect you, so stay within the cab of the forklift. Grip the steering wheel tight and brace your feet so that you stay inside the cab. Allow your body to roll with the forklift. Only attempt to exit the forklift when it has stopped moving.
8. Forklifts are heavy industrial machines, not taxi cabs or jungle gyms. Never let anyone ride with you inside the cab of the forklift, and never lift another person on the forks.
For Employers of Forklift Operators
If you are an employer who uses forklifts in your company, forklift safety training services are also available to keep your employees and your equipment safe. You may think of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as the authors of those posters you have on your walls, but they also offer useful forklift safety training and tips to employers who use forklifts in their day to day operations. Talk to your forklift manufacturer or search online for OSHA forklift safety training.