Whether you work in warehousing, logistics, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, food production, or distribution, maneuvering a forklift (or several) is likely part of your business’ day-to-day operations. While these pieces of machinery offer a host of advantages, such as improving your workplace’s efficiency, they must be operated with extreme care and skill to avoid injuries, damaged goods, and other unfortunate outcomes. Here, Barclay Brand Ferdon offers five rules and tips to ensure forklift safety at your job site.

1. Prioritize Training

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(3)(i) requires that only trained operators drive forklifts in your facility and that your company must provide the training necessary to maintain compliance. Topics should include information related to the forklifts in your fleet and their safe use within the workplace. To ensure your team receives the training they require, look for programs that include OSHA and ANSI standards and rules, best practices for safe operation, and other important elements.

2. Know the Floor and Facility

When operating a forklift, all workers must know your facility like the backs of their hands, including every twist, turn, and potential obstacle that might arise. They should also be well-versed in the layout of your facility, where certain products are kept, and the appropriate zones for loading and offloading – along with any special procedures for each area.

One way to help promote forklift safety in this manner is to develop a floor-marking system with easy-to-follow signs and labels. You can post aisle markers, forklift procedure instructions, safety reminders, and more, ensuring that both pedestrians and vehicle operators can clearly see all signs – especially at intersections within your facility. According to OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.144(b)(2), red markings should be used to identify fire-related hazards, while yellow markings signal to use caution.

3. Be Able to Identify Hazards

Operating a forklift requires workers to always anticipate any hazards that are present or may occur. For example, if a load is not secured, it could fall off the forklift and injure the driver and/or other employees. And if excessive speed is used or a load is not properly balanced, the forklift could potentially tip over. Beyond awareness of these specific hazards, workers should be trained to watch out for the following:

  • Obstructions
  • Potential overhead obstacles
  • Uneven or rough surfaces
  • Pedestrians
  • Floor markings that are incorrect or missing

4. Handle Hazardous Loads with Care

Certain loads will naturally be at greater risk for falling off the forklift than others, meaning operators must know how to handle them with extreme care. Forklifts have an approved maximum capacity, which should always be adhered to, and the load should always be strapped in place before operating the vehicle. Other helpful tips in this area include:

  • Don’t use damaged, warped, or decaying pallets or skids
  • Balance the load evenly on both forks
  • Loads will balance most stably near the mast, so be sure to stack them there
  • Ensure the load does not obstruct the driver’s view; if it does, operate in reverse

5. Develop a Strong Communication Plan

While forklift operators may be responsible for loading and offloading cargo, all employees in the facility must be aware of forklift operating procedures and safety measures. Developing a strong communication plan, consisting of written information, helpful photos, and instructional videos is one of the best ways to ensure everyone in the facility can work safely around forklifts.

Learn More about Forklift Safety

Providing proper training for every forklift operator is the best way to maintain a safe facility for all. For more information about forklift safety, contact Barclay Brand Ferdon. We offer a variety of safety programs, including on-site training and our Train the Trainer program that prepares participants to lead their own future in-house programs.