Improve Warehouse Safety by Avoiding These 4 Forklift Hazards

November 05, 2021 - Last modified: July 26, 2022 @ 3:20 pm

A technician working on a forklift battery and wearing PPE to avoid forklift hazards

There are many forklift hazards that threaten warehouse safety. It is up to both operators and facility managers to help minimize dangers as much as possible. Awareness is the first step to accident prevention. 

Operating a forklift comes with associated risks. According to OSHA, forklift hazards cause thousands of accidents each year, many resulting in injury or death. It’s important to take forklift safety seriously. 

All warehouse machinery has the potential to be dangerous. Forklifts are no exception. Understanding common forklift hazards will prepare you for the potential dangers associated with operating a forklift.

Many accidents are preventable. The wrong equipment, insufficient operator knowledge, and poor maintenance all contribute to preventable accidents.

Take proper measures to improve warehouse safety. Learn more about the common forklift hazards and how to avoid them here.

Warehouse Safety

The typical workplace faces many threats to warehouse safety. Following best practices for operating a forklift can help minimize these dangers. Here are some important things to keep in mind: 

  • Always maintain maximum visibility. Large loads at the front of the forklift can block or limit an operator’s line of sight. This makes it difficult to see pedestrians and other obstacles. Keep visibility as unobstructed as possible. Also, set up a traffic management plan. Try to keep pedestrians and other workers in different areas than forklifts. Place arrows on the floor to direct the flow of foot traffic. 
  • Abide by the speed limit. Never speed in a warehouse. Driving too fast poses many risks. By driving the recommended limit, you’re giving yourself time to react to unexpected forklift hazards. This could include pedestrians, other equipment, obstacles, holes in the floor, slippery surfaces, and more. 
  • Be mindful of your work environment. Only use equipment that’s appropriate to your warehouse. For instance, if you operate in a poorly ventilated area, don’t use a internal combustion forklift. This can cause a build-up of carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide from the truck. Also, keep track of all flammable and combustible material in your workspace. Be aware of overhead clearance.

Common Forklift Hazards & How to Prevent Them

Train your operators on how to avoid potential forklift hazards. These are challenges those operating a forklift will encounter every day. Understand the hazards below and take proper measures to prevent them. 

1. Attachments

Attachments can increase the versatility of your equipment. However, they can also be a hazard. Improper use of attachments is a big issue in the forklift industry.

There are a few ways attachments affect forklift safety. For starters, they extend the length and width of the forklift, while adding weight. This impacts operating clearances and forklift capacity. It also impacts the forklift's stability and center of gravity.

To maintain warehouse safety, operators should familiarize themselves with all relevant attachments. Make sure you’re choosing attachments that are compatible with your equipment. Check out our attachment guide for more information. 

Always ensure your attachments are properly maintained. Worn forks, stretched chains, and bent attachments all increase the chance of an accident. Conduct a daily pre-operational check to ensure attachments are ready to use.

2. Tip-over

One in four forklift accidents is the result of tip-over. Tip-overs, or overturning, can cause some of the most severe injuries. 

Most forklifts have a counterweight in the back of the vehicle to offset the weight of the load and prevent the machine from tipping forward. If this equilibrium is disturbed, the equipment could tip over. 

Most tip-overs occur when forklifts carry excessively heavy loads. Never transport a load that is heavier than the maximum load capacity. Keep in mind the load capacity changes with the load center. That means oddly-shaped loads or extra long loads will lower the equipment's capacity.

Consult the forklift's data plate for information on the capabilities of your specific machine.

In the event of a tip-over, don’t jump from the vehicle. Instead, hold tight and lean in the opposite direction the truck is falling in.

3. Refueling and Recharging

Recharging and refueling a forklift poses many warehouse safety hazards. 

Refueling can get risky due to the potential combustibility of propane and diesel fuels. They’re both flammable. Recharging presents similar risks as it generates flammable gas. 

Stay as safe as possible by building designated refueling areas. Recharge and refuel in a safe, controlled environment. Steer clear of potential sources of ignition or tools that spark in these areas. Ensure these spaces have high levels of ventilation. This allows toxic fumes to dissipate, lowering the risk of fires.

Always wear proper PPE when handling forklift batteries or fuels.

4. Loads

We’ve touched on how operators should be mindful of load limitations above. However, that’s not the only consideration to make when it comes to loads.

Improperly secured loads are another huge forklift hazard. Loose loads shouldn’t be higher than the backrest. Unsecured loads, without proper restraint, can fall off the forks. This can result in an injury or fatality. Secure all loads with the proper attachments prior to lifting. Finally, operate cautiously when carrying hazardous materials. Any spills or dangers can threaten warehouse safety.

Operating a forklift safely in a busy warehouse

Forklift Inventory

One of the best ways to maximize warehouse safety is to invest in a high-quality forklift. Operating a forklift is hard enough as is, the last thing you need is for your equipment to fail you.

Even the best forklift safety precautions can't protect your workplace from unreliable equipment. 

Ready for an upgrade? Use Forklift Inventory to compare your options before you buy. We have a nationwide network of leading forklift suppliers. We work with these pre-screened dealers to provide you with clear, upfront quotes on all your options online.

Simply let us know what you're looking for by filling out this form. We'll match you with top equipment that matches your needs. Then, you'll receive free, personalized quotes on each match.

Shop around before you commit. Compare all of your options in one place online to find the best deal in your area.

Upgrade Your Equipment and Improve Forklift Safety.

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