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The Top 10 Forklift Safety Tips Every Operator Should Know

There’s no doubt that forklifts are an integral part of construction and warehouse environments. Allowing you to move large and heavy loads efficiently, it can be difficult to envisage where we would be without this handy piece of machinery. Nevertheless, the power and functionality of forklifts can come with potential risks if not operated with utmost care. Forklifts can pose serious health and safety risks, so it’s paramount that you have precautions in place to help minimise these risks. To be as safe as possible when using forklifts, we’ve compiled a list of ten safety tips that every operator should know!

1. Training is Key

Before operating a forklift, operators must undergo comprehensive training and get the necessary certification. Operating a forklift without any training would be extremely dangerous, considering it is such a complex piece of machinery. Receiving forklift training means you’ll have the theoretical knowledge and practical skills to operate the machinery. Without this training, the risk of an accident is significantly increased.

2. Pre-Operation Checks  

Carrying out regular checks on the forklift is something that should be at the top of your list when it comes to forklift safety. Forklifts have to withstand lots of stress when carrying heavy loads, so it’s important that you check the condition of the machinery before operation. Lifting heavy loads can cause either forks to bend or crack, increasing the risk of items falling, therefore it’s important that this is checked on a regular basis. You should also check the tyres, as they can become damaged or worn from the heavy loads.

3. Consider Impact Protection

It is reported that, in the UK, over 1,300 people are seriously injured every year in forklift accidents. Fortunately, impact protection systems can be implemented to make the workplace much safer. These systems typically consist of various components such as barriers, guards, bollards, and safety rails strategically placed to protect both workers and equipment from accidents. For instance, pedestrian safety barriers are effective in helping separate forklifts and potential workplace hazards from people. Clearly defining pathways for pedestrians means that the likelihood of accidental collisions between workers and moving vehicles is minimised. If you want to increase your workplace’s safety, look no further than Axelent’s impact protection systems

4. Load Capacity Awareness

When it comes to forklift operations, you must avoid overloading because this can lead to tipping accidents. Having a forklift that cannot withstand the weight of the load poses a risk to those working in the environment and can also damage the contents of what is being carried. In this case, operators need to be aware of the specific weight limits and load distribution guidelines for the forklift they are using. 

5.Use Horns and Lights Effectively

Forklifts are equipped with horns and lights, allowing operators to communicate and see properly. The horn should be used when approaching blind spots and intersections to alert other workers that you are in the area. Furthermore, properly functioning lights are crucial for visibility in low-light conditions.

6. Be Wary of Speed

Considering that you’ll be carrying heavy loads with a forklift, it’s essential that you maintain a controlled and moderate speed. Operators should avoid sudden stops or sharp turns, especially when carrying a load because this can result in tipping accidents or collisions.

7. Seat Belts are Non-Negotiable

It might seem obvious, but seat belts are a critical safety measure when operating forklifts. If you choose to neglect seat belts, then the risk of injury in the event of a forklift tip-over or collision is much higher. With that in mind, make sure you buckle up when stepping on a forklift!

8. Don’t Neglect Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment should always be worn when operating a forklift because this helps to protect you from potential hazards. For instance, hard hats help to protect your head from falling debris and collision impacts, whilst safety glasses also help to protect the eyes. Safety boots, gloves and high-vis vests are also crucial pieces of PPE. Check out our blog to find out more about PPE and its importance!

9. Keep Your Concentration

No matter how much training you receive, the chances of an accident increase significantly if you don’t concentrate and remain vigilant. When operating a forklift, ensure that you stay alert and focused. It’s critical that you avoid distractions such as mobile phones because this can divert your attention away from the task at hand.

10. Keep the Work Area Clean

It might not be the first thing you think of, but keeping your work clean and organised is essential for the safe operation of a forklift. If clutter and debris are in the way, it can be challenging to manoeuvre a forklift. Clutter can also hide potential hazards too, which can ultimately increase the chances of an accident. In this case, dedicate time tidying the work area because this can make a huge difference when operating the forklift.

Prioritise Safety When Operating a Forklift

By following these top 10 forklift safety tips, operators can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and injuries in the workplace. Remember, prioritising safety not only protects the operator but also contributes to a safer working environment for everyone. Proper training, adherence to safety protocols, and constant vigilance are key to ensuring safe and efficient forklift operations.