Forklifts are essential pieces of equipment on many worksites. These are powerful industrial trucks that are used for lifting and moving loads.
While forklifts are powerful tools, there is also a risk of using them (and any machine) around others.
According to OSHA (the Occupational Health and Safety Administration), forklift accidents cause around 34,900 serious injuries and up to 85 fatalities around the U.S. each year. What is more concerning is that up to 25% of these incidents occur because the forklift operator needs to be properly trained. These statistics show how important proper training is when it comes to forklift operation.
Employers can feel confident that accidents will be reduced by ensuring forklift training. As a worker, if a forklift injures you, you have rights. Our legal team at Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. can help you recover workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured and unable to work because of a forklift accident.
Here you can learn more about forklift safety and tips to stay safe while operating or working around these machines.
Forklift Certification Is Non-Negotiable
As mentioned above, many forklift accidents occur because of improper safety training. It is recommended that only those who have the proper training and licensing based on OSHA standards be allowed to operate a forklift.
If you do not have this training and certification, you should not operate these machines. Doing so puts yourself and others at risk of injury.
Wear the Right Clothing
Anyone operating a forklift needs to wear the proper safety equipment while doing this. Equipment required includes a high-visibility jacket, hard hats, and safety shoes. Be sure to tuck all loose clothing away to avoid being caught in the forklift.
Know the Proper Forklift Classification
OSHA has outlined several types of forklifts and classifications. Because every type has a unique traveling speed, weight limit, structure, usage, and turning radius, it is crucial to know your equipment. When you know what type of equipment you are operating, you can follow the safety rules associated with it.
Engage in Daily Inspections for the Equipment
It is crucial to inspect forklifts carefully before they are used. Regular, daily checks are recommended to find any issues. If problems are found, it is important to log them and keep a record of the problem and how it is fixed. If a forklift needs repairs, it should only be used once the repairs are made.
The forklift checks do not have to be complex or lengthy. Some of the checks that should be done each day, based on recommendations from OSHA, include the following:
- Test the operating controls, including the steering wheel, lights, brakes, and horn.
- Check the mast and the overhead guard for any damage.
- Examine fluid and tire levels (coolant, fuel, engine, brake, and hydraulic).
- Check for radiator, oil, and water leaks.
- Ensure the forks are not damaged (i.e., no distortion, no cracks, straight).
- Look for any potential hazards.
Maintain Full Visibility of What Is Around You
When operating the forklift, be sure to keep the forks low to the ground to ensure you have clear visibility ahead of you. If the load you are moving impacts your visibility, it is best to operate the machine in reverse. Keep a good view of the rack when positioning your load. Some other best practices during forklift operation include the following:
- Make eye contact with people nearby while operating a forklift.
- Pay attention to the direction you are traveling.
- Use rear-view mirrors to increase your visibility.
- If working at night, outside, or in dark areas, use headlights.
Utilize the Marking System on the Floor
Having a floor marking system will help to increase worker safety. Yellow can be used to mark any physical hazards, such as an area where stumbling or falling is possible. Red should show fire hazards, emergency switches, and fire equipment.
It is also wise to utilize signs and wayfinders through the site to ensure that pedestrians do not get in the way of forklift paths. These signs can also create paths and routes for forklifts to ensure they do not encroach on pedestrian walking areas.
Maintain the Equipment Capacity
Know the capacity of the forklift being used and the attachments. Do not haul anything that exceeds this weight.
Overloading a forklift may cause the rear wheels to rise off the ground. In some situations, the entire machine could tip or fall over. This can cause serious injuries to the driver and anyone nearby. It can damage the machine and items being moved, as well.
Contact Our Legal Team for Help with an On the Job Injury
You have the right to recover benefits if you are injured while working. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system in Florida, which means that you could recover benefits even if the injury was your fault.
At Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., we will help you with the legal process and ensure that you get the benefits you are entitled to while you cannot work. Forklift accidents can cause serious injuries, so having someone represent your interests is invaluable.
Contact us today for a free consultation.