The forklift is an indispensable piece of equipment for any warehousing operation, while also representing a costly investment as a result of initial capital expenditure and maintenance costs. Forklifts can also be a liability due to the potential risk of significant amounts of damage to the facility, customer product, and even other employees from their use. That is why employee training on proper use and awareness of potential hazards are so important in maintaining a safe workplace when operating a forklift.
No matter how experienced an individual is at operating a forklift, it’s important that every operator maintain a healthy respect for the destructive capabilities of the equipment and is held to a high standard when it comes to its safe use.
Keep all warehouse aisles and passageways wide enough to allow for the safe movement of pedestrians and machinery.
All accidents are avoidable, here are three common causes associated with forklift accidents that you should be aware of before operating the equipment.
1) Equipment that is in poor condition or lacks proper maintenance
There is simply no excuse for operating equipment that is damaged or broken. Malfunctions, leaks, and corrosion can often appear harmless at first but can quickly lead to accidents and costlier repairs when left unchecked. That is why daily pre-trip inspections and regular servicing of equipment is a vital step in stopping forklift accidents from happening in the workplace. A good method of averting problems associated with improper maintenance is to keep up to date with regular maintenance and keep proper records when maintenance occurs on any piece of equipment. By making sure any repairs are well documented, you are not leaving the safety of your co-workers and the facility to chance.
2) Operating equipment carelessly
As many forklift “fail videos” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx3GgYN3o2w) demonstrate, the careless operation of a forklift can easily lead to very costly accidents in the workplace. That is why no matter how experienced an individual is at operating a forklift, it’s important that every operator maintain a healthy respect for the destructive capabilities of the equipment and is held to a high standard when it comes to its safe use. It takes only one careless act to cause significant amounts of damage, which is why it’s up to all team members to uphold a zero tolerance policy when it comes to horseplay and the careless use of equipment.
3) Unsuitable working environment or non-functional layout
When it comes to preventing accidents in the workplace, a thoughtful and properly designed warehouse can go a long way. Crowded, cluttered or narrow aisles are just some poor design features that can lead to costly workplace accidents. Here are a few things that should be considered when designing a layout:
- Keep all aisles and passageways wide enough to allow for the safe movement of pedestrians and machinery.
- Ensure that your racking system is in good condition before stacking additional pallets and do not exceed the maximum weight capacity.
- Secure all racking structures to the floor base and make sure each beam of the structure is secured.
If for some reason a poor layout is unavoidable, then properly training employees becomes a key part of maintaining a safe workplace. It is also important to provide training when warehouse changes occur so that employees are aware of them and know the best way to operate within the new layout.
Being aware of these common causes of forklift accidents in a warehouse will help you, and your co-workers, being vigilant is required to prevent safety hazards going forward.
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