6 Common Forklift Hazards & How To Avoid Them

Date Posted:9 October 2023 

Forklifts are the sturdy workhorses of the industrial world. Indispensable for a multitude of tasks, forklifts are used for lifting heavy loads in warehouses and streamlining construction sites. However, their power and versatility don’t come without risks — which is why mitigating these hazards is crucial to ensure the safety of your operators, pedestrians and workplace. 

Whether you’re a seasoned forklift operator or a business owner, learn about the common forklift hazards in the workplace and how to avoid them below. 

Forklift operation hazards

  1. Improper operation and use

Forklifts are engineered for a specific purpose, such as safely lifting and manoeuvring palletised and heavy goods. Unfortunately, improper operation, such as speeding, racing or sharp cornering increase the risk of accidents, including collisions and unit tip-overs — leading to injuries, fatalities and equipment damage.

How to avoid: 

  • Ensure all forklift operators hold a valid forklift licence and have received up-to-date training.
  • Emphasise that forklifts should be used only for their intended purposes, discouraging any inappropriate or reckless operation.
  1. Load Hazards

Every forklift has a manufacturer-rated maximum load limit. Ignoring this and overloading the forklift beyond this limit is a perilous hazard. That’s because an overweight load reduces stability when lifted by the tynes, increasing the likelihood of load falls and forklift tip-overs, endangering operators and potentially damaging both the load and the forklift.

How to avoid:

  • Educate operators about the forklift's maximum safe load limit, often found on the rating plate.
  • Ensure load weights are known before lifting and confirm that loads are within the unit's load limit.
  • Always secure loads properly to prevent unexpected movement.

  1. Insufficient or incorrect maintenance

Failure to maintain a forklift properly can significantly elevate the risk of accidents. Broken lights, malfunctioning alarms, worn tynes, damaged chains or fluid leaks are issues that can result from inadequate maintenance.

How to avoid:

  • Establish scheduled maintenance plans to ensure regular inspections and upkeep of forklifts.
  • Tag out any forklift with maintenance issues, prohibiting its use until repairs are complete.
  • Prioritise prompt repair of maintenance-related problems to maintain optimal operating conditions.
  1. Pedestrians

The presence of non-essential pedestrians in areas where forklifts operate is a substantial hazard. Pedestrians can be severely injured if struck by a forklift. For that reason, effective traffic management and safety measures are essential in areas where forklifts and pedestrians share space.

How to avoid:

  • Implement a robust traffic management plan in areas with forklift-pedestrian interaction.
  • Install safety measures like guardrails, line markings, spotlights and horns on forklifts to alert pedestrians to their presence.
  • Physically separate pedestrian and forklift paths whenever possible to reduce the risk of accidents.
  1. Floor conditions

Floor conditions within the forklift working area can present various hazards. Some examples include debris, puddles, unstable ground and obstructions. Wet and slippery floors can cause skidding, while cracks and potholes can lead to tip-overs.

How to avoid:

  • Maintain clean work areas by promptly addressing wet and slippery hazards, removing debris and fixing cracks and potholes.
  • Implement routine inspections of the working area to identify and mitigate floor-related hazards.

  1. Lack of safety gear

When it comes to forklift safety, one critical aspect that cannot be overlooked is the use of proper safety gear. Lack of safety gear exposes operators to increased risks in case of accidents or sudden stops. Seatbelts, helmets, high-visibility vests and steel-toed boots are among the essential safety gear that should be worn during forklift operations.

How to avoid: 

  • Emphasise the importance of wearing safety gear to all forklift operators.
  • Enforce a strict policy that mandates the use of safety gear at all times while operating a forklift.
  • Conduct regular checks to ensure safety gear is in good condition and properly fitted.

Make safety a priority with Verdex

The reliability of forklifts must go hand in hand with unwavering safety measures. By understanding and addressing these six common forklift hazards, you're not just protecting your operators, you're also safeguarding the heart of your workplace.

At Verdex, we are dedicated to promoting safety and efficiency. To further enhance your workplace safety, we invite you to explore our extensive range of workplace equipment, lifting equipment, warehouse storage solutions, waste handling equipment, trolleys and hand trucks.

If you have any questions or need expert guidance, please don't hesitate to contact us. Together, we can ensure a safer, more productive work environment for everyone.

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