Forklift accidents are not news when warehouse, manufacturing and construction safety topics are brought up. It is common knowledge that working in or moving around this heavy-duty truck can pose risks that may cost property, production, insurance and most unfortunately, lives. Although it’s not run-of-the-mill yet, Occupational Health and Safety Council of Ontario reports that forklift-related incidents still average out at 700 each year in Ontario alone. And a fraction of this startling number is accounted for the vehicle tipping over.
Many factors contribute to tip-over accidents. Poor workplace design (cluttered or narrow corners, dimly lit warehouse, ramps with different surfaces, lack of forklift traffic signs), overloading or improper loading, speedy turns, running over obstructions, and lifting the load while moving are some of its many causes. And when the forklift starts to overturn, a driver’s normal reaction is to jump off the vehicle. This often results in trips to the orthopedic hospital if not the morgue. You don’t want that.
Proper training is the key in any occupational accident prevention. As a forklift operator, you must be equipped with technical and working knowledge of the specific vehicle you are assigned to, no matter how little of an upgrade or downgrade it may be, to effectively avert mishaps. But if ever you get caught in this situation, here are some tips for a better chance of survival:
- Stay in your seat. Assuming you practice the basic safety procedure of buckling up, you must not try to jump off the machine.
- Brace yourself. Firmly keep your feet on the floorboard, yourself against the seat, and your grip on the steering wheel.
- Lean in the opposite direction. Make sure you remain inside the vehicle frame for protection from impact, and lean away from the side of the overturn.
Forklift and Pedestrian Safety
All this does not end with the driver behind the wheel. Workplace safety tips and procedures while working around forklifts should be hammered home to all the staff, because after all, an on-ground employee also faces the same risk of getting crushed by a forklift or struck by lifted materials as operators do.
Staying alert is a general rule to keep oneself out of harm’s way, all the more crucial in environments where moving machinery are a common sight. But as employees get swamped with work, safety practices slowly slips into complacency. This is when caution and warning signs are most critical. A facility must have sufficient forklift safety signs where this vehicle is frequently used. Moreover, both workers on foot and forklift operators are advised to make eye contact to communicate intent and prevent forklift accidents.
There’s no need to bend over backwards to tip the balance in favor of safety. Familiarize yourself with your workplace, go through the proper training and practice what you’ve learned. That’s really all there is to workplace safety.
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