Working as a certified forklift operator comes with a lot of great advantages. The pay is good and you can work wherever you want in the country or even anywhere in the world. The demand for forklift operators is simply high! Forklift operator jobs are offered in different industries such as construction, manufacturing, airports, seaports, and haulage depots.
However, operating a forklift machine is a relatively dangerous job. A forklift is a large, powerful industrial truck used to move and store materials safely and efficiently. That is why it is important for employers to provide their employees with the appropriate equipment and proper forklift operator training.
Common Causes of Forklift Accidents
Today’s companies use forklifts for their day-to-day operations. However, this powerful and highly efficient machinery presents significant risks. Despite the safety regulations set by organizations, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to ensure safe working conditions for workers, accidents can still happen due to improper training, incompetent operator, and malfunctioning equipment.
Forklift operation mishaps can cost money and time as causes delay in your daily operation and production. With proper training and guidance, the following accidents can be successfully prevented.
Here are the most common causes of forklift accidents:
- Poorly Trained Drivers – Lack of knowledge and training on the proper forklift safety protocols for carrying loads is an accident waiting to happen. Also, a set of new inventories, obstacles, and changes in the floor gradient can often result in problems in an inexperienced driver. A driver’s safety training program should include behavioural examination, eye test, reflex test, written examination, and driving assessment to ensure the driver can properly handle their job in different situations.
- Faulty Equipment – Operators need to check for any signs of mechanical problems before driving the vehicle. Also, regular maintenance and repair should be carried out to ensure good working performance. Lack of parts and the use of improper attachments and accessories often result in accidents and injuries. Make sure that the attachments and accessories are properly secured to prevent detaching during operations. Fix, replace, or repair faulty parts before using the machine.
- Speeding – Seasoned operators may become too comfortable when driving a forklift. Sometimes, years of driving can make them irresponsible drivers, assuming there is no danger in driving faster than the recommended speed. As a forklift operator, keep in mind that a forklift is designed to lift and transport heavy materials from one point to another and not for speed. The OSHA recommended speed limit for driving a forklift is five miles per hour.
- Driving with an Elevated Load – This problem often leads to workplace accidents. Driving the forklift with an elevated load not only blocks the driver’s view but carrying a load higher than the centre of gravity causes the load to become unstable and unbalanced, pulling down whatever it is attached to. OSHA recommends carrying loads approximately four inches from the floor.
- Insufficient Markings – Marking forklift zones and placing highly visible floor markings is an effective way to prevent accidents where both forklift and foot traffic are present. This helps people know they are walking through a forklift zone and need to watch out for heavy machinery. Reflective floor tapes also help forklift operators in warehouses to follow the right traffic in the workplace.
It is important for businesses to enforce safety workplace regulations and hire someone with a forklift operator license. On the other hand, one of the forklift operator’s duties is to strictly follow the safety guidelines implemented by the company. Failure to follow the safety guidelines can hold you accountable for the accident that happened in the workplace.
Importance of Forklift Safety and Training
Workplace safety experts claim that most forklift accidents are due to the driver’s error. Damage to goods, injuries, and death could result in improper forklift operation. Hence, it is inappropriate to consider a forklift as a dangerous machine if mishandled. This simply makes a forklift operator certification an important requirement for forklift drivers.
- Safety – Safety is a crucial factor that affects the company’s overall performance. Reducing forklift accidents helps boost production. Employing certified forklift operators ensures minimal risk of mishaps and injuries in the workplace.
- Cost Saving – In addition to risking the safety of your employees, forklift accidents can result in costly damage. For instance, small damages can become major problems over time and increase the cost of production. Also, forklifts involved in an accident require repair to restore them to good working condition. That is why it is highly important for a forklift operator to skillfully handle the machine to ensure smooth operation.
- Compliance with the Law – OSHA reported that the majority of the causes for casualties that occurred in workplaces include collision, shifting loads, tip-overs, and ineffective safety programs. The agency requires companies to establish the competence and skills of a candidate to operate the powered lift truck efficiently.
- Ensure a Safe Working Environment – No matter what the size of the company is, implementation and adherence to safety regulations is a must. Safety hazards are often caused by careless handling of the equipment and bad forklift operation practices. As an operator, make sure to be mindful of the following when operating the machine:
- Wearing a seat belt
- Staying within the speed limit inside and outside of the premises
- Sounding the horn
- Pedestrian awareness
- Minimize the Risk of Accidents and Injuries – Learning the proper operation of a powered lift truck can be a complex process; however, knowing how to operate it safely is critical for every forklift driver. When driving a forklift, make sure to comply with the safety practices and keep the following in mind:
- Identify potential hazards
- Careful and proper handling of heavy loads
- Maintenance of vehicle stability during operations
What Does Forklift Operator Course Consist Of?
The forklift operator course usually depends on your level of knowledge on forklift operation. Courses focus either on novice or experienced operators who require a refresh.
For newbies, novice courses cover basic operation of a forklift, from practical operational skills, such as hydraulic control, inspection procedures of mechanical parts, navigation, loading of products, and running the machine safely, to health and safety. The course usually starts on OSHA safety and regulations. Towards the latter part of the course, you will be taught about the proper and safe operation of the forklift. Once you pass both the theory and practical evaluation, a certificate will be given that you have completed and passed the course.
For those getting a refresher, the course focuses more on the latest regulations and legislation. Safety experts will also evaluate your practical skills to ensure that you are ready to take on the duties and responsibilities of a good forklift operator.
Lakeport Metalcraft Inc. offers The Backbone® for Reach Trucks which helps prevent hazards of standup forklift underride that could result in catastrophic, life-altering injuries and even death. Call us today at (905) 944-1550 to learn more about our product.