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Mistakes to Avoid When Operating a Forklift

It’s a sad truth that all sorts of videos of forklift accidents exist on the Internet. Videos that show entire warehouses destroyed because of either careless driving or a poor layout in a warehouse. The important thing to remember when it comes to operating a forklift is that a forklift is not a car. They can tip over more easily than a car because forklifts are tall and narrow. They aren’t intended to be driving the way you drive a car. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when operating a forklift.

restraint_fallFirst and most important, don’t operate a forklift if you are overly tired or on any medication that causes drowsiness. Forklift drivers need to always be alert to avoid tipping over. You can’t put a price tag on keeping yourself and your coworkers alive and free from injuries.

If you are operating a forklift in a warehouse and need to pass another forklift in front of you, avoid passing at blind spots, intersections or any other dangerous locations on the premises. If you can’t see what’s around the corner, slow down and use the forklift’s horn to warn others of your presence. Loads that block forward vision should be driven backward. If you can’t see where you’re are going, it’s too dangerous to proceed. Find another way. In dimly lit areas be sure to turn on the lights. The better the visibility, the safer you are operating your forklift.

Just because you are operating heavy machinery and surrounded by steel, doesn’t mean you have the right of way. No matter where you are driving a forklift, pedestrians have the right-of-way. When operating a forklift follow safety guidelines for allowing enough room for pedestrian and other traffic. Don’t drive a forklift up to any pedestrians who are standing in front of a fixed object. If the forklift loses control or tips, they could be pinned between the object and the forklift resulting in serious injury and even death.

Take measures to insure the forklift doesn’t tip over. This involves keeping forks low and the mast slightly tilted back while the forklift is moving. Loads that are too tall or top-heavy are ones that will make the forklift tip over. Also, making turns too fast can result in the forklift tipping over as well as turning on a grade.

Don’t lose track of time. Especially in enclosed areas if you are driving a gasoline or propane forklift. Carbon monoxide levels can reach unsafe levels. Avoid prolonged exposure in an enclosed area.

Forklifts become even more unstable when they travel at a high speed. This is why forklifts should be driven only as fast as a person can walk.

Surface conditions like grease, oil slicks, water, ice, snow and loose objects are just a few causes of forklift accidents. Pot holes and uneven ground wreak havoc too. And when it comes to a change in surface height, experienced forklift operators cross diagonally.

You wouldn’t drive your car near a flammable spill and the same should hold true for operating a forklift. Forklift operators should always be alert for unknown liquids or those that are flammable.

Forklift loads need to be tilted back for stability. When it comes to ramps, forklift operators should always back down a ramp. Be mindful of the slope. On slopes with inclines greater than 10% the load should be carried upgrade.

Joy rides are dangerous. A forklift should never carry riders, just its driver and its load. Riders can easily fall off the forklift and be injured.

There are many factors that result in a forklift tipping over and just because a forklift isn’t carrying a load doesn’t mean it still can’t tip over. Safe driving is just as important whether your forklift is carrying a load or not.

Finally, when your shift is over and it’s time to call it a day, a forklift should be parked, its wheels blocked, forks lowered, controls neutralized and the power shut off. When all that is done, wet the forklift’s parking break and remove its key.

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1 thought on “Mistakes to Avoid When Operating a Forklift”

  1. I think the biggest risk when driving a forklift is the entire machine tipping over. Always make sure that you are balanced. Take it slow as well. If you are in a hurry, accidents are more likely to happen.

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