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Operating a forklift is an important job, and can be very dangerous if not handled properly. There are conferences on forklift safety and there is even a day dedicated to it in the month of June.
If one is to drive a forklift they should be properly trained by a qualified professional and certified and then re-evaluated at least once every three years. Employers should not just take ones word that they are properly qualified and certified, they should verify to ensure that the lift will be operated in a safe manner.
If an operator has been found to be operating the forklift unsafely, received a poor evaluation, have been in an accident or a near miss, or when there are changes in the workplace or type of forklift, then a refresher training course should be given to the employee.
When operating a forklift or walking in an area where forklifts are being operated, it is important that one be constantly aware of any potential hazards.
There should never be any horseplay or stunt driving while operating a forklift. Driving fast or erratically can be dangerous for many reasons – you could tip over, hit/ crush someone or crash into boxes in the warehouse. You should always keep your arms and legs in the vehicle at all times to prevent injury and not carry any passengers.
It is important to stay aware of your surroundings. This means looking in all directions before proceeding, and to look in the direction of travel as you are traveling. If you are carrying a load and it is big enough to obstruct your view, travel in the reverse to keep your view clear. Pay attention to conditions of the flooring, if there are any obstructions that you may need to stop for, and slow down for wet and slippery surfaces. Maintain a safe distance which is approximately three truck lengths from the truck ahead of you, maintain control at all times and observe all traffic regulations and any signs that may be posted.
A tip over can occur if the forklift is handled improperly, and can result in injury or death. In case your sit-down counterbalanced truck were to tip over follow these safety tips:
- Stay in the forklift – don’t jump off.
- Hold on tight to the steering wheel.
- Brace your feet.
- Try to lean away from the impact.
- Lean forward.
A tip over in another type of forklift may be handled differently. Always be prepared and know how what to do in case of an emergency.
Learning the ins and outs of operating a forklift, forklift safety, and getting properly certified is vital. If you are starting a job that requires you to use a forklift and don’t know how to operate one, speak with management to ensure that you are properly trained.