Forklifts have revolutionized the way in which companies handle and transport materials. Consisting of a small powered truck with two heavy-duty prongs, they allow workers to easily lift and move materials. Unfortunately, many workers are injured while using a forklift. Statistics show that over 30,000 workers sustain a nonfatal injury while operating a forklift in any given year. If you're job required you to operate a forklift, you should follow these five essential safety tips to protect against injury.
#1) Inspect Before Operating
You should always inspect a forklift before operating it. Like all industrial vehicles, forklifts require regular maintenance. If a forklift hasn't been properly maintained, you shouldn't use it. Performing a visual inspection of the forklift may reveal underlying problems that could otherwise lead to injury. If you discover any problems when inspecting the forklift, notify your employer or supervisor immediately.
#2) Keep Hands and Feet Inside
Another essential forklift safety tip is to keep your hands and feet inside at all times. Injury can occur if any part of your body protrudes out of the truck. If you operate a forklift with a protruding hand or foot, you may strike it against an otherwise hard object. You can prevent injuries such as this by keeping your hands and feet inside the truck at all times.
#3) Wear a Seat Belt
Assuming the forklift has a seat belt, always buckle up when operating it. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) doesn't require forklifts to have a seat belt. With that said, OSHA does require forklift operators to wear a seat belt if they are included. In other words, if your forklift has a seat belt, you must wear it under OSHA's guidelines. Wearing a seat belt will secure your body in place so that you are less likely to sustain injury.
#4) Beware of Load Weight
You should be conscious of load weight when operating a forklift. Most forklift-related injuries involve the forklift toppling over, which can occur if the weight of the load exceeds the maximum weight supported by the forklift. Some forklifts are designed to support up to 4,000 pounds, whereas others are designed to support up to 6,000 pounds. Regardless, you shouldn't exceed the forklift's maximum lifting capacity.
#5) Pay Attention
Forklift-related injuries can often be prevented by paying attention to your surroundings. Hazards can appear in the blink of an eye. Maybe the floor is obstructed, or perhaps another worker is crossing your path. Regardless, you need to pay attention for hazards such as these so that you can avoid them.