Forklifts are essential to day-to-day operations in most warehouses, especially those with large inventories and bulky orders. However, like any piece of heavy machinery, it is crucial for anyone operating a forklift to know how to do so safety and to adhere to safety procedures at all times.
Every warehouse should establish unique safety rules for forklift operation based on their inventory capacity, pick patterns, and other factors specific to their facility. Otherwise, warehouse workers should follow these tips for general forklift safety.
What to do before Operating a Forklift
One of the easiest and most important ways to maintain forklift safety in a warehouse is ensuring operators are properly certified. Forklifts should only ever be operated by OSHA-licensed workers who are trained to do so, and warehouse managers should supplement their certifications with additional training every few years.
Anyone operating a forklift in a warehouse should also ensure they are wearing appropriate clothing, such as high-visibility jackets and safety shoes. Forklifts should also be inspected daily for mechanical failures and defects. Additionally, placing floor markings for forklift operates to navigate in can help prevent collisions with stationary obstacles like racks and tables as well as workers who might inadvertently walk into a forklift’s path.
Finally, forklifts should have a designated storage area where they are parked after every use. In addition to ensuring the forklift does not block any crucial pathways in the warehouse, this also simplifies tasks like refilling gas tanks, recharging batteries, and performing safety checks before the next shift starts.
Staying Safe while Operating a Forklift
Only one person should ever be on board a forklift at a time, unless it’s designed to seat more. Likewise, no one should ever be lifted by a forklift unless they’re on a secure platform and enclosed in a safety cage.
Before transporting a load of any size, you must ensure that it’s properly balanced and that it won’t tip over and fall during turns. For example, positioning the load as far back on the forks as possible so its center of gravity is close to the center of the forklift can help prevent falls. Securing particularly heavy or unwieldy loads with straps, ropes, or bungee cords before moving can also minimize forklift accidents. In the same vein, forklifts should always be driven at a slow and deliberate pace within the speed limit set for the warehouse floor where it is in operation.
Finally, no matter how skilled an individual operator is, they should make sure to keep the forklift they are driving a safe distance away from stationary obstacles. Workers on the floor should be trained and reminded to give forklifts as wide a berth as possible, to avoid walking or standing under raised loads, and to keep their limbs clear of all moving parts.
For more insight on forklift safety, consider reaching out to our team today. We can give you access to a network of vetted HapiWorkers and ready-to-hire HapiEmployers who are familiar with industry-wide best practices for maintaining warehouse safety.