Your forklift operators are an essential part of your business, and their job comes with some risks. Without the right safety practices, your workers can suffer accidents that lead to expensive repairs and workers’ compensation claims. Proper forklift safety is key to running an efficient and safe operation.
As a warehouse or distribution manager, your job is to know how to improve forklift safety for the benefit of all your workers. We’ve compiled a list of 15 of the most important safety tips for operating forklifts. Use them to foster a safer workplace where your forklift operators can feel confident around their equipment.
15 of the Top Forklift Safety Tips
Your employees need forklift safety rules to maintain their efficiency and well-being during their shifts. Consider the following forklift safety tips for the workplace to foster a healthier work environment:
1. Receive Proper Forklift Safety Training
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires your forklift operators to receive proper forklift safety training to legally and safely operate a forklift. Hold or attend operator training classes to certify operators soon after they are hired. You can trust certified forklift operators to get their work done while keeping themselves, their associates and your company’s freight safe. You’ll also avoid receiving fines from OSHA if all your operators have their certifications. Learn more about LiftOne’s training programs.
2. Inspect Each Forklift Daily
Forklift inspections should happen each day. Test controls including lights, breaks, horns and steering wheels. Look over the entire forklift for signs of damage that could signal the need for repairs. Check brake, fuel, engine, hydraulic and coolant levels. Inspect the floor and engine bay for leaks. Make sure the forks are in good condition without any signs of damage. Only then can you deem a forklift safe for work.
3. Wear the Proper Attire When Operating Forklifts
You must be sure every forklift operator is wearing the right clothing for the job. Long, loose garments or clothes with tassels or strings can get caught in the workings of the forklift, leading to a dangerous situation. If your warehouse has a uniform, be sure every worker is following it. Instruct each of your forklift operators to follow any dress code rules as these are in place for their safety.
4. Understand the Forklift Classes
Several classes of forklifts exist, each with unique driving styles. Forklift classes have different turning radiuses, weight limits, sizes and other factors that set them apart. Forklift operators should only get into the operator’s seat if they know how to use that specific forklift class safely.
5. Use Floor Markings
Warehouses can be busy places with people and forklifts traveling in different directions at all times. Take measures to increase forklift traffic safety by applying bright, visible floor markings to the ground of your warehouse. These markings can provide specific areas for forklift and foot traffic. They can also guide forklifts in safe directions when the flow of traffic goes two ways. Arrows, words and other markings can provide even more information and security for your forklift operators as they work.
6. Use Audible Signals to Alert People Nearby
In a busy warehouse, sounds can all blend together. Workers may move their forklift around a corner or up or down an incline without knowing what is beyond their eyesight or earshot. People walking may also be unaware of the forklift action happening around the corner. Instruct forklift operators to honk their horns or shout an audible signal to alert others nearby of their presence.
7. Move at Appropriate Speeds
Your forklift operators can avoid countless accidents by moving at safer speeds. Chances of accidents are higher if your forklift operators are ripping around turns or moving freight at a rapid rate. Make sure your forklift operators stay below the maximum speed and put safety before quickness.
8. Ensure Forklift Stability
Every forklift has a maximum load rating. Exceeding this load limit can impact the forklift’s stability. Picking up packages in a haphazard or uneven way can also reduce the stability of a forklift. Make sure your forklift operators understand how to keep their forklifts stable as they pick up and move freight of all shapes and sizes.
9. Maintain 360-Degree Visibility
Forklift operators should make their operating decisions with full awareness of what is going on around them. For this to be possible, each operator must maintain 360 degrees of visibility at all times. Knowing when to back up, turn and move ahead safely is only possible when an operator has a clear line of sight of all that is around them.
10. Avoid Using Forklifts to Transport or Lift Other People
Under no circumstances should a forklift operator transport or lift another person on the forklift or the forks themselves. The only acceptable time for two people to be on a forklift is if two seats are present on the equipment.
11. Stay Clear of Hazardous Areas
Forklift safety extends to the people on the ground as well as the people operating the forklifts. Your workers should avoid walking under lifted loads or in the blind spot of a forklift operator. Likewise, workers should avoid walking in front of forklifts that are on the move to their next destination.
12. Make Sure Each Load Is Secure
Your forklift operators should slide the entirety of their forks beneath every object they attempt to pick up. An object that is not completely on the forks is at risk of falling off and injuring someone. Only once the freight has touched the back of the forks is an operator safe to begin moving the item.
13. Maintain a Safe Operating Distance From Other Forklift Operators
Each forklift operator should do their work at a safe distance from other operators. Operators should leave adequate space between them when picking up and moving materials. This can help reduce the number of collisions in your warehouse and aid in forklift traffic safety.
14. Park Each Forklift at the End of Shifts
Forklift operators must park their forklifts in the correct, specified location at the end of their shifts. This rule can keep forklifts organized and make them easier to inspect. It will also help clear the lanes in your warehouse for the cleaning crew and any lingering operators wrapping up their shifts.
15. Use Safe Practices When Refueling Forklifts
Safe refueling practices include turning off each forklift and refueling in a well-ventilated area. Refueling at the proper times also helps keep forklifts from running out of gas during a shift, keeping operations safe and efficient.
Contact LiftOne for More Information
Warehouse safety starts with you and your employees, but it also depends on using the right warehouse and distribution material handling equipment. LiftOne is your source for the warehouse equipment you need to get the job done safely and efficiently. We offer new forklifts as well as used warehouse equipment. We even offer forklift rental equipment that you can count on for your warehouse needs.