Serious injury and even death occurs throughout Australia as a result of forklift accidents. Following procedures, maintaining forklifts and ensuring the workplace is clean and free of distraction wherever possible minimizes the risks associated with forklift operation. Whilst some incidents have unique circumstances and can be difficult to predict, the most common forklift accidents can happen anywhere.
When taking on a job that requires driving a forklift, the proper training and licence is essential. An untrained operator is at much higher risk of having an accident than an operator with the proper certification. When alterations are made in the workplace, such as new items in the inventory or obstacles on the factory floor, an operator with little or no training may not understand how to manage the forklift in order to compensate for these changes. Different driving surfaces, gradients and weather conditions can all influence the handling of a forklift. If employers ensure that all forklift operators have up to date training and are matched with a forklift appropriate for their capabilities, the risk of accident is severely reduced.
Overconfidence and Warehouse Shortcuts
Once an operator has received the proper training and licence, it is important they work within their capabilities at all times. In addition to the safety information provided during forklift training, employers should display and enforce their own workplace safety guidelines. Taking shortcuts to speed up the day’s productivity can lead to disaster. Simple things such as obeying speed limits and taking care not to corner too quickly reduce the risk of accident significantly. It is also important to ensure the forklift’s load is as close to the ground as possible during operation, and that there are no other employees hitching a ride on the forklift or balancing the load with their bodies. These are all unnecessary risks which can lead to serious injury. Unstable loads, broken pallets and loads that exceed a forklift’s weight capacity or block the operator’s vision are just as dangerous. Whilst it is important for the operator to speak up if they feel the load is unsafe or inappropriate for their vehicle to lift, it is also the responsibility of the employer to ensure the loads are matched to the forklifts that are intended to transport them.
Vehicle and Warehouse Maintenance
Poorly maintained forklifts and work environments are just as dangerous as an operator without the correct training. If the workplace is subjected to unusual odors, dust, poor lighting or sudden noises, the operator may become distracted whilst driving the forklift. A distracted operator is more likely to make a mistake, which increases the risk of an accident. All warehouse forklifts should be kept in optimal condition with regular servicing and maintenance checks. Something as simple as worn brakes or tyres substantially increases the risk of an accident. Performing regular checks of both the forklift trucks and they environment they will be driven in is essential for the safety of all employees.
Driving any sort of vehicle comes with a set of risks, and forklifts are no exception. It is important for operators to follow safe procedures wherever possible, but sometimes accidents still occur. In these instances, proper training and workplace safety guidelines might be all that stands between a serious injury or a fatality. It is vital for employers and operators to maintain good communication channels and uphold appropriate safety standards to ensure the risk of a serious accident is as minimal as possible.
Preventing Forklift Accidents
Up to date knowledge and training is the best way to prevent forklift accidents. Check out our range of Forklift Training Courses to make sure you, or your staff are operating forklift safely.
Written by Samantha Marshall