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The Most Common Forklift Hazards

Forklifts are a great way to transport heavy loads across your workplace. However, as with all heavy equipment, forklifts are going to pose some level of danger if not used correctly. 

Staying safe in the workplace is a number one priority, so it’s important that your workforce recognises and understands the most common forklift hazards. In this article, we’ll describe the top five most common hazards and how you can ensure your workforce remains safe.

Manoeuvring and handling

While rear-end steering provides a tight turn radius for the front of forklifts, the back of forklifts are known to swing wide during a turn. If not careful, the forklift could hit pedestrians during a manoeuvre. 

It’s not enough to simply ask your workforce to stay alert. You should have a traffic management plan in place that separates pedestrians from forklifts and other mobile equipment. For further safety, we recommend using physical barriers such as bollards wherever possible.

Blind spots

A particularly large load carried by the forklift may contribute to a blind spot for the operator. A blind spot may prevent the operator from noticing a pedestrian or other hazard in their way. 

Using the forklift in reverse is a great way to avoid this blind spot. The operator should be comfortable using the forklift in reverse when needed. Pedestrians should be made aware of the blind spot hazard and always stay clear of the truck.

Instability

Forklifts and their loads may become unstable if operating on inclines or wet/oily surfaces. This becomes a greater risk if the forklift is carrying an uneven load and is making fast turns.

The danger is twofold: the load could fall from the truck onto a pedestrian or the truck itself could topple over. Overturning is responsible for almost 25% of all forklift-related accidents and can cause serious injuries.

To reduce the risk of instability, the forklift should never carry excessively heavy or uneven loads. Operators should take great care not to speed when doing manoeuvres or turning around corners.

Fuelling/Recharging

Whether you’re using a petrol forklift or an electric forklift, refuelling/recharging the truck can be a fire hazard. You must never smoke or light a naked flame near the forklift truck, especially when refuelling or recharging.

Speed

Forklifts are useful due to their ability to transport heavy loads in a short timeframe. However, the speed of the forklift, while a great asset, can also be a serious hazard. Speeding can cause the forklift to crash into pedestrians or obstacles, and may even cause the truck to topple over. Due to its robust exterior, a forklift operating at slow speed can do just as much damage as a car travelling at about 15 miles per hour.

Operators must obey all speed limits, and pedestrians should stay within designated pedestrian walkways. 

At East Midlands Forklifts, we supply a range of forklift trucks built for efficiency and safety. Take advantage of our forklift driver training to learn how to use our forklift trucks safely. We offer training for every type of forklift, ensuring your workforce remains safe no matter which forklifts you are using.

Contact our team today to find out more.

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