Preventing Forklift Injuries

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) investigations of forklift-related deaths indicate that many workers and employers may not be aware of the risks of operating or working near forklifts and are not following the procedures set forth in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, in national consensus standards, or in equipment manufacturer’s guidelines. According to NIOSH, most fatalities occur when a worker is crushed by a forklift that has overturned or fallen from a loading dock.

Workers who operate or work near forklifts can take these steps to protect themselves. These include:

Do not operate a forklift unless you have been trained and licensed.

Use seatbelts if they are available.

Report to your supervisor any damage or problems that occur to a forklift during your shift.

Do not jump from an overturning, sit-down type forklift. Stay with the truck, holding on firmly and leaning in the opposite direction of the overturn.

Exit from a stand-up type forklift with rear-entry access by stepping backward if a lateral tipover occurs.

Use extreme caution on grades or ramps.

On grades, tilt the load back and raise it only as far as needed to clear the road surface.

Do not raise or lower the forks while the forklift is moving.

Do not handle loads that are heavier than the weight capacity of the forklift.

Operate the forklift at a speed that will permit it to be stopped safely.

Slow down and sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed.

Look toward the travel path and keep a clear view of it.

Do not allow passengers to ride on forklift trucks unless a seat is provided.

When dismounting from a forklift, set the parking brake, lower the forks or lifting carriage, and neutralize the controls.

Do not drive up to anyone standing in front of a bench or other fixed object.

Do not use a forklift to elevate workers who are standing on the forks.

Elevate a worker on a platform only when the vehicle is directly below the work area.

Whenever a truck is used to elevate personnel, secure the elevating platform to the lifting carriage or forks of the forklift.

Use a restraining means, such as rails, chains, or a body belt with a lanyard or deceleration device, for the worker(s) on the platform.

Do not drive to another location with the work platform elevated.

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