Preventing common forklift accidents starts with determining those likely scenarios. Then, both managers and operators can formulate strategies and procedures to prevent accidents and minimise safety risks.
Common scenarios that involve accidents and injuries include:
- Forklifts, or a forklift load tips over (crushing a person nearby)
- A person gets crushed between a forklift and wall
- Collisions between forklifts (especially due to excessive speed and blind spots)
- Personnel getting struck by a forklift
- Forklifts bumping into walls or racks which may result in worker injury
The causes of those accidents are often the following:
- Speeding (especially in low-speed designated areas)
- Improper acceleration and brake activation (too abrupt or too late)
- Lack of warning notifications (forklift driver didn’t notice pedestrian nearby)
- Poor forklift maintenance (engines, hydraulics and/or brakes might fail which results in improper manoeuvring or even tip-overs)
- Unstable load (or loads are too heavy)
- Crowded or cluttered aisles (forklift drivers have less space to move around the equipment)
- Obstructions at aisles, corners and intersections (limits the ‘window’ where forklifts can enter and manoeuvre)
- Poor lighting and high-noise levels (results to lack of visibility and absence of awareness)
As you’ve noticed, most of them have nothing to do with a lack of training or improper forklift operation. It’s more about the environment. Aside from making the work harder for employees, an unfavourable environment may also encourage poor working practices (environment affects work habits more than we think).
How to prevent common forklift accidents
The key is to changing the environment and cultivating a safe warehouse in the first place. A neat and orderly environment will then encourage better working habits. In addition, a clean working environment will readily expose the risks. The managers and forklift operators will then be able to act on those risks.
How to cultivate a safe workplace? Start by assigning low-speed areas, addressing blind spots and getting rid of the clutter in the aisles, corners and intersections. Also, assign specific parking areas so everyone will know that the forklifts are stationary there.
You can also apply detailed sanitation procedures to keep the floors and other surfaces free from spills and debris. Aside from keeping the workplace clean and looking professional, the absence of spills and debris will also improve forklift safety (spills won’t get on the tyres and hydraulics).
There are other ways to further improve forklift and workplace safety. Get in touch if you require such solutions.