How Forklift Accidents Happen (And What You Can Do to Prevent Them Today)

Driving a forklift takes skill and practice, but that doesn’t mean that forklift accidents don’t occur.

In order to stay safe while on the job, there are some key things every forklift driver should know.

Read on to learn how and why these types of accidents happen, and what you can do to prevent them for a safe experience.

A Tipping Forklift: The Most Common of Forklift Accidents

Forklifts are designed to carry very heavy loads, which means they can easily tip over if they’re too top-heavy. The rate of forklift incidents is on the rise in the UK, with numbers increasing to 1,300 in just the last year. Accidents caused by forklifts tipping over are one of the most common types of accidents that can result in serious forklift operator injuries or even death.

It’s important to make sure that your load is balanced properly whenever driving a forklift. Never make sharp turns, as this is a common cause of forklifts tipping over. Take your time as you drive and turn corners carefully so the forklift remains level at all times.

If you’re driving on a slope or over an uneven surface, it’s important to take extra care. One slip or bump could cause the forklift to “list” and possibly tip over.

As you drive, make sure the load is in the lowest position. Not only will this keep your forklift level, but it also clears your line of sight so you can safely drive the forklift to your destination.

If your forklift happens to tip over, stay in your seat and don’t attempt to jump out. Try to keep your body inside the forklift frame and push yourself in the opposite direction of the forklift as it tips over.

Pedestrian Accidents

Some of the most common forklift accidents involve pedestrians who may walk in the path of a moving forklift. These accidents are common, but they’re also easy to prevent with the proper training. In 2019, 30 workers were killed by a moving vehicle in Great Britain.

First, all drivers should go slowly and never speed, even if you’re outside. Warehouses tend to have tight corners or areas where someone can instantly walk in front of you without a second’s notice. If you’re speeding, you can easily run someone over by accident.

One way to avoid a pedestrian and forklift-related accident is to ensure that the warehouse has wide aisles and ample room to make turns. There should be no obstructions in doorways, and all shelving should be sturdy and secure to avoid accidentally hitting one and knocking it over onto a passing pedestrian.

Regular forklift driver training is crucial to ensure that everyone is following the proper safety protocols. Update your training manual and perform training classes on a regular basis to ensure that workers are up to date with the latest safety rules.

Inspect your warehouse and make sure it has adequate lighting and enough room for forklifts to manoeuvre. Emphasize that forklifts should only be driven during times of low traffic or when you can safely move others out of the way.

Check the loading dock to make sure that it’s in good condition and easy to use. In many cases, pedestrians are injured when a forklift drives onto a loading dock that’s not secure or not cleared for easy access.

Mechanical-Related Accidents

You wouldn’t drive your vehicle if it wasn’t in good condition, and your forklift is no exception to this rule. Proper maintenance and care of your forklift can help to prevent all kinds of unexpected forklift incidents.

Inspect your forklift on a regular basis and make sure the brakes and steering are in good working order. Check the clutch, shift linkage, or transmission to make sure it’s working the way it should.

The mast assembly can also malfunction, which can result in serious injuries. Make sure the mast is in proper working order and have it repaired as soon as possible if you have any issues. A broken mast can be a very serious cause for injury while driving a forklift.

Check your forklift for any signs of leaks in the hydraulic or transmission. If it’s leaking, contact a forklift repair service right away before driving it again. You should also make sure the seatbelt is in good condition, and that all lights are working.

Even the horn of your forklift should be inspected since this can alert pedestrians of an approaching forklift. Make sure the forklift has side mirrors so drivers can easily see and prevent blind spots from obstructing their view.

Poor layout of controls and displays is another common cause for forklift accidents. Take a close look at the equipment and make sure it’s easy to operate and control for safe driving. Always make repairs to your forklift if you notice any issues so that you correct the issue before it gets out of hand. 

Safe Forklift Driving Means a Safe Workplace

While forklift accidents do happen, they’re preventable as long as you have the right safety measures in place. Conduct regular training for drivers, and make sure your equipment is in good condition. Make repairs as soon as they’re needed to prevent mechanical problems that may result in an incident.

Adjust your warehouse to make sure you have ample lighting and wide aisles that make it easier for drivers to manoeuvre. 

If you need assistance with training, maintenance, or a new forklift, be sure to visit our website or contact us today to learn how we can help.