Operating heavy equipment can result in injuries when workplaces and operators fail to take safety precautions. Forklifts, in particular, can be dangerous if not handled properly, causing as many as 100,000 injuries every year. While some types of precautions need to be implemented by supervisors, others depend on forklift operators themselves.
Getting into the forklift
Slipping and falling while getting in or out of a forklift is a common accident that can result in severe injury. Avoid this by making sure that your shoes and your hands are clear of any greasy or slippery substances. Wear shoes with good traction on the soles. As you get in, grab the handhold, not the steering wheel, which can move and cause you to fall.
Always check your forklift before starting it and again once the engine is running. Before beginning to move, take a look at your surroundings to make sure that there are no obstructions to your path or your view. If your view is not completely clear, sound your horn before you go. Another option is asking another worker to spot for you.
When you stop, do so in a place where you will not obstruct exits or aisles. Park slowly, making sure to set the parking brake afterwards. If you are on a slope, block the wheels to avoid the forklift beginning to roll.
Forklifts are not designed for speedy driving. Driving a forklift too fast can cause it to tip over. Because it is fairly unwieldy, going too fast can make you unable to stop or turn in time if there is an unexpected pedestrian or object in your path. Knowing in advance the conditions on your route can help you avoid hazards, but it does not mean you can go faster. Do not forget to slow when you need to turn or cross an intersection.
Reversing can be very dangerous if done carelessly. You need to check your surroundings frequently as you go. However, your visibility will still be limited, so make sure to go very slowly. When it is noisy, bystanders may be unable to hear the back-up alarm, so do not assume that they know to get out of the way. Increasing visibility by using rear-view mirrors and ground guides can be helpful as well.
Dealing with inclines
When going up or down an incline, be aw are of the possibility that the forklift may tip over or that the load will fall. If your truck is loaded, go up the slope forward with the load upgrade; go down in reverse with the load also upgrade. When driving an unloaded truck, the forks should be downgrade.
When workers or supervisors fail to take precautions, workplace injuries become likelier. If you were hurt at work, it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer about options for worker's compensation.