Safety Tips for Forklift Elevation

 In Workplace Safety

Forklift Safety And Tips For Proper Forklift Operation

Before we even get into the broader discussion of forklift safety tips, we want to remind our readers of perhaps the most important forklift safety reminder of all.

Do not use a forklift to reach higher areas such as storage racks or other items out of arm’s reach. Ideally, all construction personnel would use ladders instead of forklifts for these tasks.

Do not use a forklift for elevating personnel. This is unsafe. Ignoring this warning could lead to injury and even death.

However, we realize many teams will do this — and still do this, despite forklift safety warnings, so we figured we might as well address it.

Forklift Safety Tips

If you do use your forklift for elevating personnel (and you shouldn’t!), here are some important safety tips:

  • The platform needs to have guardrails. Too often an injury occurs from an employee falling over the edge of the platform. Make sure the platform itself is firmly attached, as well.
  • Do not ever leave a person on the platform while unattended. Forklift operators need to be present at all times, and they also need to be certified in forklift safe operating procedures.
  • Have a guard in place between worker and mast to avoid hazards. While workers are elevated, they could potentially brush against harmful objects, such as the shear point in a chain.
  • Make sure your hydraulic system was properly engineered. If you have people hopping on the platform, make sure that, in an emergency situation, it does not drop more than 135 feet per minute.
  • Do not move the forklift, especially if the platform is higher than three feet. If you must move the forklift, lower the platform and have the worker step down. This is true even if your platform has guardrails; trust us, you don’t want to play around with these.

Remember to obey all warning signs, including the one which we stated above: Do not use a forklift for elevating personnel! Otherwise, pay attention to overhead guards, make eye contact with workers on foot, identify potential hazards before buckling in, and participate in any training programs offered by your employer.

Forklifts, lift trucks, and powered industrial trucks are designed for carrying loads (not people). They’re meant to raise a heavy load and stack the load on the pallets and skids in and around facilities and loading docks.

For the health and safety of all involved, they require proper training to operate. Adhere to facility speed limits and safe distance protocols. Maintain a level of respect for this powerful machinery. It takes more than a basic understanding of steering wheels and levers to raise pallets to run a forklift safely and efficiently.

Take forklift safety seriously

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lays it out as clearly as possible: “Forklift operators must follow safe operating rules at all times. Operators must always maintain control of the forklift, keep a proper lookout, and operate the forklift at speeds safe for the particular operation and worksite conditions.” (You can find more information from OSHA (specifically 29 CFR 1910.178) here.)

By the way, OSHA estimates there are more than 100,000 forklift accidents every year.

Forklift safety is one of the leading causes of on-site fatalities. These happen for all sorts of reasons, from trucks accidentally being driven off loading docks, trucks falling between docks, or workers being struck by the truck.

And we would be remiss not to mention something that should be absolutely understood by each and every employee, whether they work a forklift or not. Don’t operate a forklift or allow yourself to be transported by forklift when the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Statistics Regarding Forklift Safety

For those of you interested in a deeper dive into the numbers, we present to you some statistics, many of which are quite grim.

According to SafetyAndHealthMagazine.com, “OSHA estimates that 35,000 serious injuries and 62,000 non-serious injuries involving forklifts occur annually. Further, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 96 U.S. workers were killed in incidents involving forklifts in 2015.”

The state of Washington reports that about 100 workers are killed each year and 20,000 are seriously injured in “forklift mishaps.”

They write that “according to the National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) Surveillance System, 1530 workers died from forklift-related accidents between 1980 and 2001.”

Washington also reports that the top four types of incidents as a percent of the total forklift-related deaths are:

  • The forklift overturns (22%)
  • A worker on foot is struck by the forklift (20%)
  • A person is crushed by a forklift (16%)
  • A person falls from a forklift (9%).

Storee Construction

This is why Storee Construction places a strong focus on preventing on-site injuries, specifically when it has to do with forklifts. We can come to your site and assess the premises, giving you tips for operators and how to best handle the vehicles.

If you’re interested in a safety program that’s designed specifically for your facility, give Storee Construction a call at (417) 736-2032. We can also answer any specific questions you have. Our main concern is that your workers are always in the safest situation possible.