Forklift accidents are unfortunately a common occurrence in a warehouse operation. But, by identifying and eliminating common factors that lead up to an accident, your enterprise can successfully reduce impacts and injuries.
For example, approximately 42% of forklift fatalities result from the operator being crushed by a tipping vehicle. Many of these are the result of not using the seatbelt, which is required by OSHA. The question is, are your operators buckling up? Is this a factor in your facility?
So, even though risk is inherent to operating a forklift, there are several categories of risk you can avoid.
Here are some common ones, according to OSHA:
4 common risk factors in forklift accidents
1) Management/equipment shortfalls
- Not enough training to keep operators attentive and at appropriate skill level
- Pressure to produce more in limited time — speed or stress
- Lack of proper tools, attachments and accessories
- Operators using forklifts they’re not qualified to operate
- Poor forklift maintenance
- Old forklifts/breakdowns
2) Poor operator habits or behaviors
- Operators exceeding speed limits and pedestrian warnings
- Riding with the load elevated
- Poor communication during shared tasks/shared spaces
- Improper backing up, turning, and braking skills
- Riding or giving rides on the forklift
- Erratic driving or horseplay; stunt driving
- Failure to follow safety checklists and servicing/repairs when needed
3) Improper load procedures
- Carrying a load that is too heavy
- Poorly stacked or piled loads on the pallet
- Pallets in disrepair
- Loads that block vision or are unstable
4) Poor workspace configuration
- Narrow, crowded aisles
- Obstructions at intersections and doors.
- High volume of traffic in work area and poor routing plan
- Multiple ramps with different surfaces
- Condition of loading dock
Statistically, 11% of all forklifts will be involved in an accident. The total number of injuries caused by forklifts is 96,785 annually. So, take steps to remove these common risk factors.
4 steps to reduce forklift accident risk factors
1. 70% of all forklift accidents can be avoided with proper training and processes.
A telematic operator report card provides a quick view of operator performance and allows managers to identify areas where training may be needed.
2. Daily safety inspection checklists help avoid accidents and ensure repairs are completed.
Your telematics software should require checklists be completed for the vehicle to operate.
3. Implement short rest periods for operators under high production stress or that have been completing strenuous tasks.
Workers on short work/rest cycles have fewer job-related injuries then those who take long work breaks after long work schedules.
4. Perform regular maintenance on forklifts.
A telematic maintenance report card allows a quick view of forklift maintenance and historical KPI targets. Software can include a safety report card, which provides a holistic view of operator and maintenance KPI targets across a site, group of operators, or group of forklifts.
From workplace conditions to operator habits, consider common risk factors that exist in your facility and identify and address safety deficits before they lead to a forklift accident. The best way to deal with impacts and injuries is to take steps to avoid them.