Forklift accidents are no joke – they’re a concern for others, supervisors, owners, and the people operating them. If you’ve spent your time around the bull and deal with forklifts on a day to day, maybe you’ve come across an accident or two during a couple stints.
Other than common sense, having a smart policy in place means enforcing the safe-obvious rules you’ve set up. Punishment for workers who violate your rules should be severe.
Severe enough to send a message: if workers pose a risk to injury, either to themselves or others by being unsafe and working unprofessionally… then they could, let’s say, get the boot. For a day or two. Maybe their lunch won’t be paid for the week.
There’s a whole host of punishments out there for people who have a blatant disregard for the rules.
There are different ways (most of them involve common sense professionalism and respect) to avoid forklift-related injuries. Let’s look to some action steps you can put in place today.
1. Supervision and Monitoring
It’s the duty of employers to provide a safe workplace within the rights of workers – nobody elses. Monitoring and keeping track of the lowdown is a key part in maintaining that type of workplace safety.
As such, employers can go through a weekly checklist to ensure their line of forklifts is suitable for use – inspecting areas such as…
- Fluids and controls
- Warning devices
- Seatbelt, forks, Etc.
It’s also wise to set in place, a special procedure for employees to follow should incase an unsafe forklift meet their path.
2. BEING CRUSHED
Do me a favour and go find a dump truck. Then go find a medium-sized forklift. Look real close at the two – what do you think their weight differences are? Monumentally huge, right?
They’re about the same weight. Ipso facto, they should both be treated with the proper respect. The size of a medium-sized forklift is deceiving – there’ve been many instances of forklift operators who, misjudging the lift, jumped to the ground (OR tipped over!) and miscalculated the fall. Did you hear about a man in Brooklyn who was crushed to death? OSHA estimates that over 85 fatalities (in the workplace) are forklift related.
Preventing these tragedies is as simple as companies providing sufficient training for use with any machine. It is the duty and responsibility of supervisors to ensure proper maintenance of equipments and that they are being used in right way to avoid accidents.
3. Safe Warehouse Environment
The physical environment around you (most likely the warehouse), such as the lighting, ventilation, housekeeping, road surfaces, etc. plays a big part in forklift safety.
Let’s be obvious here: the stronger (or more) lights there are, the safer forklift drivers will see any obstructions in their path.
However, one bulb doesn’t fit all, especially when it comes to proper lighting design. Lighting is serious work.
“Housekeeping” refers to keeping the warehouse organized and tidy – like a $50/hr. maid spends time cleaning up a wealthy client’s home; no junk lying everywhere, no wrappers littering the ground, etc.
Overhead walkways also help employees remain safe. However, safety/visibility mirrors installed in a lot of places around the warehouse (and on the front and back of forklifts)? Tell me forklift drivers can’t use mirrors to help them see where they’re going. Convex safety mirrors do just that.
What else makes the environment safer? Signs, safety barriers, boom gates, etc. That doesn’t mean forklift injuries will be wiped clean – but the amount of them will diminish over the coming months with each respectful upgrade.
4. Maintain Forklifts
Having a well-maintained forklift is essential for preventing accidents. That isn’t surprising, is it? In case it’s time to repair forklifts, purchase those that come with their own safety reading material.
According to CertifyMe.net, forklift injuries happen twenty thousand times a year. Most forklift accidents happen when the forklift has poor maintenance, improper backing up techniques and workers don’t consider the forklift’s age.
Let me ask you, what maintenance program do you have set up? Does it include a weekly schedule of services? How often do you perform forklift (and other machinery) inspections? What about cleanings? Ensure the mechanism that’s always on is the one that stops forklifts from starting unless the seatbelt is fastened around the driver.
Have you equipped your forklifts with anti-slip surfaces and grab-rails? These make the difference when someone falls and is bedridden for a few months.
5. Lack Of Safety Education
The warehouse will fail to meet its full potential, and majorly suffer when it comes to production. It will also create serious risks to every eyeball in there. When warehouse workers aren’t trained, everyone suffers. Everyone.
The OSH reports that a lack of training, or being trained improperly, contributes to forklift injuries.
We can see a trend: what’s the foremost cause of injury in the workplace? Inexperienced workers. The problem with inexperienced workers? They can cause company profit to plummet; how couldn’t they be a liability? They weren’t trained in the first place! If they were, maybe an accident wouldn’t have happened, and their (or should we say your?) mistake wouldn’t cost the company in damages.
The same goes for veterans who’ve been around the block; new equipment comes in, let’s say, your golden oldies have no clue what does what or how to work it. A “refresher” course is the divider between a major, expensive accident (TRAGIC accident that could be fatal, actually)… and experienced workers utilising their skills professionally.
The biggest thing is to advocate safety (such as The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 does) at all times through the year. Discuss safety monthly or weekly – and please address safety issues as they pop up.
OSHA summed it up best when they said that operating a forklift without proper training is dangerous. There have been many reports about forklift accidents; some list 85 fatalities each year. With over 850,000 forklifts in the U.S. alone, 85 fatalities isn’t peanuts. Let’s try to keep that number smaller – don’t add to it by being irresponsible. Stay safe out there.
Featured photo credit: pixabay.com via pixabay.com