Forklifts are among the most widely used pieces of equipment in U.S. warehouses and construction sites, but they are also some of the most dangerous. OSHA estimates as many as 85 workers are killed and nearly 35,000 more suffer serious injury as a result of forklift accidents every year.
Examining your forklift
To reduce this risk, the agency recommends forklift operators examine forklifts before they even start the engine, reporting and removing from service vehicles that can't be operated safely. Here's a checklist OSHA suggests you use to guide your evaluation:
- Fluids: All fluids – including oil, water and hydraulic fluid – should be at appropriate levels.
- Hydraulic hose and mast chain: Be sure both areas are free of leaks, cracks or other visual defects.
- Tires: Measure tire pressure and look for cuts or gouges that could cause a flat.
- Forks: Make sure the top clip retaining pin and heel are properly in place and that both forks are free from damage.
- Safety decals: All warning plates and labels should be visible.
- Operator manual: The manual should not only be present on the truck, but it must be legible. Check for sun or water damage that could render the manual unreadable.
- Operator compartment: Debris in the compartment can restrict the operator's ability to access controls, and grease can lead to dangerous slips or falls.
- Seat belt: Perhaps the forklift's most important safety feature, test that the seatbelt functions properly.
Preparing for a tipover
If operated improperly, a forklift can tip over suddenly and cause fatal injuries. Before you start the engine, make sure you know what you would do in the event of a tipover. OSHA offers these basic tips to keep yourself safe:
- Always wear a seatbelt.
- Stay in the forklift if it begins to tip. Do not jump.
- Hold on to the steering wheel tightly.
- Brace your feet on the floor of the operator compartment.
- Lean forward and away from impact.
Before operating a forklift, contractors must be properly trained and examined. For the best health and safety training classes in Houston, contact Safety Advantage today.