Common Accidents and Injuries Due to Forklifts
One of the main focuses of forklift training is accident prevention. Operating one of these industrial trucks is a huge responsibility. Not only do you have to protect yourself against injury; you are also responsible for those around you, as well. Being a forklift operator is a huge responsibility, so make sure you are prepared for it before you fill a position and put yourself and others at risk. Below are some of the most common causes of forklift-related accidents and injuries.
Being Crushed by the Forklift
One thing you will learn during your training is that you never jump from a forklift that is tipping. It is very unlikely that you will clear the distance that will put you out of harm's way. You are supposed to grip the steering wheel, brace yourself with your feet, and lean your head and body in the direction away from the ground.
A forklift operator is not the only person who can be crushed though. If a forklift tips and pedestrians don't move fast enough, they could be pinned underneath. Making sure your load is balanced and following procedures for slopes and hills will help reduce this risk.
Sometimes, simply common sense is all you need to avoid an accident. In June 2014, a 22-year-old worker was crushed by a forklift when he was pinned to a wall. He was pushing the forklift up a hill with a walk behind electric one, and it rolled back and crushed him. This is definitely an accident that could have been avoided.
Striking a Pedestrian
You might think you have great visibility in a forklift, but in some
cases you don't. This is especially true if you are carrying a load. You cannot always see workers and other pedestrians in your blind spots. Plus, when turning corners there is always the risk of hitting someone on foot.
Always make sure you can see in front of you. This may mean raising the load more. If you need to reverse make sure you look in all directions before proceeding. Do not assume someone will see or hear you and move out-of-the-way.
Fall from a Forklift
Every forklift operator is told to not let anyone ride on the forks. There are specific approved platforms to use for hoisting an employee in the air. Still, there is a constant stream of accidents reported from employees falling from the forks or the load they were carrying.
After crushing accidents, fallen objects pose the second greatest threat. Key factors typically involve using drums, bins, pallets, or containers that are damaged and offer the risk of collapsing. Also, using incorrect lifting equipment can be to blame, as well. Other falling hazards include falling plant equipment or racks after being struck by the forklift.
Always make sure pallets, etc. are in proper condition. Also, make sure you maintain your truck's stability triangle with every load.
Running Over Feet
Having your feet ran over by a forklift that weighs a significant amount is not pain you would wish on your worst enemy. The accident could result in permanent crippling. Again, make sure you know where other employees are around you and don't be afraid to ask someone to move from a narrow aisle, if you don't feel confident maneuvering beside them in a tight area.