Forklifts are incredibly useful machines to have. Heavy pallets, boxes, and other materials can be lifted and moved with ease. However, statistics show an estimated 85 deaths per year due to forklift accidents.
It might seem easy to operate a forklift, but there are dangers. This is why every company with a forklift on site must put their employees through a safety training class. The class needs to include more than simple operating instructions. It needs to cover all of the hazards that can cause forklift injuries.
Benefits of Forklift Safety and Training
One advantage companies have is that forklift training is standard. This means that a training program that was successful at another company also applies to yours. While the type of surface the forklift is driven on might vary - meaning a slight adjustment in your company’s training program - the basic safety protocols apply to all.
If forklift accident statistics aren’t enough to convince you to require safety training for all employees operating the machine, here are a few ways the program will benefit the company:
- Forklift training can be free for employees and the company. When a forklift is purchased it often comes with a free training program either online or in-person. The majority of these free programs are also compliant with OSHA standards.
- The safety and training class is easy to understand so employees do not need to pre-classes.
- Safety training helps build teamwork and leadership skills among employees. They are fully participating in safety protocols and this helps to firmly establish these practices.
- Productivity at work increases when operations aren’t shut down due to a forklift injury, and a culture of safety encourages employee awareness.
One other advantage is that with proper training, the rate of forklift accidents dramatically declines. This greatly protects your employees and saves you money short- and long-term in equipment repairs, replacements, and injury cost.
Forklift Safety Rules
Even after the safety training program is completed, it’s a good idea to keep a list of the key points posted where employees can review them. The list of safety rules and precautions should include the following:
- Always inspect the forklift before operating it. If the forklift needs repairs or maintenance the shift supervisor should be informed immediately.
- Before every turn, the operator must check behind the forklift to ensure there is clearance.
- Never leave the forklift unattended when running, it is a violation of several workplace safety protocols. It is also illegal to leave keys in the ignition or anywhere else in the forklift when it’s not in use.
- Be familiar with the precise lifting capacity of the forklift. This information should be included on the posted safety list and the machine.
- Forklift operators must follow designated paths at work. Having set paths for the forklift that all employees are familiar with reduces the number of workplace injuries. The best practice is to have these routes marked.
- Hands and feet must be kept away from the mast at all times when the forklift is running.
- Refuel the forklift after use. It prevents the machine from becoming a hazardous roadblock.
- Always park the forklift in its designated spot and apply the parking brake.
Forklift operators also need to follow additional safety protocols to keep themselves and those around the machine safe, including:
- Always pay attention to your surroundings.
- Avoid driving over wet surfaces, bumps, holes, etc. that could cause the forklift to tip over.
- Use the horn when turning a corner or entering a pathway to alert nearby employees.
- Stay in the operator’s seat when the forklift is running and wear the supplied seatbelt.
- Shoes and hands should be clean and free from grease before operating a forklift.
- Always wear work approved clothes on a forklift.
- Only authorized employees should be allowed to operate the forklift.
These simple guidelines combined with safety training will keep employees safe and reduce accidents and injuries due to forklifts.
Minimize Forklift Hazards With Work-Fit
Forklifts make lifting heavy materials safer and easier for employees. However, these seemingly simple machines are responsible for over 61,800 accidents each year. Implementing a safety training program for forklift operators will dramatically reduce this number.
At Work-Fit, we have services that can help you start a training program for your company. We also train operators to avoid injury in their driving and mounting/dismounting habits. We’re always happy to answer any questions concerning forklift safety.