Forklift Safety Types, Hazards, and Control Measures

Forklift Safety: Types, Hazards, and Control Measures

If you work in a warehouse, you are likely familiar with forklifts. Forklifts are essential pieces of equipment in many industrial and commercial settings. However, these machines can be dangerous if not used properly. This blog post will discuss the different types of forklifts, their hazards, and the control measures that should be taken to ensure safety.

Forklifts are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment on a construction site. They can be used for various tasks, including lifting and moving heavy materials, loading and unloading trucks, and clearing debris. Forklifts can also move trailers around a construction site or load and unload them from flatbed trucks.

Forklifts come in various sizes and shapes and can be powered by gasoline or diesel engines. The size of the forklift you need will depend on the tasks you plan to use it for. For example, if you plan to use it primarily for lifting heavy materials, you will need a larger forklift than if you plan to use it mainly for loading and unloading trucks.

It comes from the group of vehicles known as lift trucks and can be used in factories, construction sites, and farms. The term fork-lift truck is normally applied to the counterbalanced lift truck, where the load on the forks is counterbalanced by the vehicle’s weight over the rear wheels. The reach truck is designed to operate in narrower aisles in warehouses and enables the load to be retracted within the wheelbase. The narrow aisle (VNA) truck does not turn within the aisle to deposit or retrieve a load. It is often guided by guides or rails on the floor. Other forms of lift truck include the pallet truck and the pallet stacker truck, both of which may be pedestrian or rider-controlled.

Types Of Forklifts

There are three main types of forklifts: electric, internal combustion engine (ICE), and battery-powered. Each type has its own set of pros and cons that you should consider before making a purchase.

  • Electric forklifts are the most popular type because they’re efficient and have low emissions. However, they require a lot of maintenance and can be expensive to operate.
  • ICE forklifts are less expensive than electric models, but they’re not as efficient and produce more emissions. They’re also louder and require more maintenance.
  • Battery-powered forklifts are the most expensive type but are the most efficient and have the lowest emissions. They’re also the quietest and require the least amount of maintenance.

When it comes to choosing a forklift, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Your business’s best type of forklift depends on your specific needs and budget. Talk to a forklift dealer to find out which type of forklift is right for you.

Forklift Hazards

Forklifts are very versatile pieces of equipment that can be used in various settings, but they also come with several potential hazards. Here are some of the most common hazards associated with forklifts and what you can do to control them.

  • Overturning – maneuvering at too high a speed (particularly cornering); wheels hitting an obstruction such as a curb; sudden braking; poor tire condition leading to skidding; driving forwards down a ramp; movement of the load; insecure, excessive, or uneven loading; incorrect tilt or driving along a ramp;
  • Overloading – exceeding the rated capacity of the machine;
  • Collisions – particularly with warehouse racking which can lead to a collapse of the whole racking system;
  • The silent operation of the electrically powered forklift truck – can make pedestrians unaware of its presence;
  • Uneven road surface – can cause the vehicle to overturn and/or cause musculoskeletal problems for the driver;
  • Overhead obstructions – a particular problem for inexperienced drivers;
  • Loss of load – shrink wrapping or sheeting will reduce this hazard;
  • Inadequate maintenance leads to mechanical failure;
  • Use as a work platform;
  • Speeding – strict enforcement of speed limits is essential;
  • Poor vision around the load;
  • Pedestrians – particularly when pedestrians and vehicles use the same roadways. Warning signs indicating the presence of fork-lift trucks should be posted at regular intervals;
  • Dangerous stacking or de-stacking technique – this can destabilize a complete racking column;
  • Carrying passengers – this should be a disciplinary offense;
  • Battery charging – presents an explosion and fire risk;
  • Fire – often caused by poor maintenance resulting in fuel leakages or engine/motor burnout, or through using an unsuitable fork-lift truck in areas where flammable liquids or gases are used and stored;
  • Lack of driver training.
  • If fork-lift trucks are to be used outside, visibility and lighting, weather conditions, and the movement of other vehicles become additional hazards.
Forklift Hazards and Control Measures

There are also the following physical hazards: 

  • Noise – caused by poor silencing of the power unit;
  • Exhaust fumes – should only be a problem when the maintenance regime is poor;
  • Vibrations – are often caused by a rough road surface or wide expansion joints. Badly inflated tyres will exacerbate this problem;
  • Manual handling – resulting from maneuvering the load by hand or lifting batteries or gas cylinders;
  • Ergonomic – musculoskeletal injuries caused by soft tyres and/or undulating road surface or holes or cracks in the road surface (e.g., expansion joints).

Forklift Safety Control Measures

Regular and documented maintenance by competent mechanics is essential. However, the driver should undertake the following checks at the beginning of each shift:

  • Condition of tyres and correct tyre pressures;
  • Effectiveness of all brakes;
  • Audible reversing horn and light working properly;
  • Lights, if fitted, working correctly;
  • Mirrors, if fitted, in good working order and properly set;
  • Secure and properly adjusted seat;
  • Correct fluid levels, when appropriate;
  • Fully charged batteries, when appropriate;
  • The correct working of all lifting and tilting systems. 

A more detailed inspection should be undertaken by a competent person within the organization every week, including the mast and the steering gear. Driver training is essential and should be given by a competent trainer. The training session must include the site rules covering items such as the organization’s fork-lift truck driver code of practice, speed limits, stacking procedures, and reversing rules. Refresher training should be provided at regular intervals, and a detailed record of all training received.

Finally, care must be taken with selecting drivers, including relevant health checks and previous experience. Drivers should be at least 18 years of age, and their fitness to drive should be reassessed regularly (every five years after age 40 and every year after 65 (HSG6)).

Safe Driving Of Forklift Trucks

Drivers Must:

Drive at a suitable speed to suit road conditions and visibility
Use the horn when necessary (at blind corners and doorways)
Always be aware of pedestrians and other vehicles
Take special care when reversing (do not rely on mirrors)
Take special care when handling loads that restrict visibility
Travel with the forks (or other equipment fitted to the mast) lowered
Use the prescribed lanes
Obey the speed limits
Take special care on wet and uneven surfaces
Use the handbrake, tilt, and other controls correctly
Take special care on ramps
Always leave the truck in a safe state that discourages/prevents unauthorized use (brake on, motor off, forks down, key out).

Drivers Must Not: 

Operate in conditions in which it is not possible to drive and handle loads safely (e.g., partially blocked aisles)
Travel with the forks raised
Use the forks to raise or lower persons unless a purpose-built working cage is used
Carry passengers
Park in an unsafe place (e.g., obstructing emergency exits)
Turn round on ramps
Drive into areas where the truck would cause a hazard (flammable substance store)
Allow unauthorized use.

Other Forms Of Lifting Equipment

The other types of lifting equipment to be considered are cranes (mobile overhead and jib), lifts and hoists, and lifting tackle. The lifting operation should be properly prepared and planned. This involves selecting a suitable crane with up-to-date test certificates and examination reports that have been checked. A risk assessment of the task will be needed to ascertain the load’s weight, size, shape, and final resting place. A written plan for completing the lift should be drafted and a competent person appointed to supervise the operation.

Forklift Safety Rules

How to Operate a Forklift

Operating a forklift is not as difficult as one might think, but certain protocols must be followed to ensure safety and efficiency. Here are the basics of how to operate a forklift:


Before operating a forklift, it is important to quickly assess the machine and its surroundings. Ensure that the area is free of obstacles and that the forklift is in good working condition. Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with the controls so that you know how to operate them properly.

Traveling and Maneuvering

When driving a forklift, it is important to go slowly and carefully. Make sure to keep a good grip on the steering wheel and avoid sudden turns. Also, be aware of your surroundings and be careful not to run into anything.

Load Handling

When lifting a load with a forklift, it is important to use caution. Be sure to lift straight up and down, so the load does not shift. Also, be careful not to drop or let the load fall off the forks.

Following these simple tips can safely and effectively operate a forklift. Just be sure to use caution and pay attention to your surroundings, and you will be able to handle any situation.

There are many different types of forklifts, each with specific operating instructions. However, some general tips apply to all forklifts:

  • Read the operator’s manual before operating the forklift.
  • Always wear proper safety gear, including a hard hat, safety glasses, and ear protection.
  • Inspect the forklift before each use, and report any damage or defects to your supervisor.
  • Never operate a forklift while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Drive the forklift at a safe speed, and always come to a complete stop before picking up or setting down a load.
  • Keep your hands and feet clear of the forklift’s controls while operating.
  • Use extra caution when operating the forklift near pedestrians or other traffic.
  • Never drive the forklift off-road or on uneven surfaces.
  • Never overload the forklift beyond its maximum capacity.
  • When you are finished using the forklift, shut off the engine and set the parking brake.

Follow these tips and the specific operating instructions for your particular forklift to help ensure a safe and productive work environment.

Forklift Safety Training

Forklift safety is one of the most important things to consider when working in a warehouse or other facility that uses this type of equipment. There are many potential hazards associated with forklifts, and all employees who operate them must be properly trained in how to safely use and maintain the equipment.

Forklifts are powerful machines that can cause serious injuries if used improperly. Employees who operate forklifts must be properly trained in how to safely use the equipment. This training should include how to properly inspect the equipment before use, how to operate it safely, and what to do in the event of an accident.

In addition to proper training, it is also important for employees to be aware of the potential hazards associated with forklifts. Some of these hazards include being struck by the forklift, caught between the forks, and crushed by the weight of the load. Employees should also be aware of the possibility of electrocution if they come into contact with exposed wires while operating the forklift.

Forklifts are also susceptible to tipping over if they are not used properly. This can occur if the operator tries to lift too much weight at once or if the forklift is not properly balanced. If a forklift tips over, it can cause serious injuries to the operator and anyone nearby.

Operating a forklift can be dangerous, but employees can safely use these machines with proper training and awareness of the potential hazards. Employers must provide employees with the necessary training and information to safely use forklifts.

Forklift Safety Checklist

  • Inspect the area around the forklift for potential hazards.
  • Ensure that the load is properly balanced and secured before lifting.
  • Keep hands and feet clear of moving parts while the forklift is operating.
  • Use caution when operating the forklift on slopes or uneven surfaces.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid potential hazards like pedestrians or other vehicles.
  • Slow down and use extra caution when making turns.
  • Always set the Parking Brake when parking the forklift.
  • Turn off the engine and remove the key before leaving the forklift unattended.
  • Follow all manufacturer’s instructions and safety warnings.
  • Never operate a forklift while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Forklift Safety Signs

Forklift safety signs and stickers are essential in any workplace where forklifts are operated. They help remind workers of the potential hazards associated with operating these powerful machines and can also help prevent accidents by making it easier to spot potential hazards. Various types of forklift safety signs and stickers are available, so choosing the ones that best fit your workplace is important.

Some common forklift safety signs and stickers include:

  • Warning signs warn workers of potential hazards for operating forklifts, such as blind spots, sharp turns, and high-traffic areas.
  • Prohibited signs indicate areas where forklifts are not allowed, such as areas with high pedestrian traffic or narrow aisles.
  • Speed limit signs remind workers to operate forklifts at a safe speed, usually 3 mph or less.
  • Yield signs indicate areas where forklifts must yield to pedestrians or other vehicles.
  • Stop signs indicate areas where forklifts must come to a complete stop, such as at crosswalks and intersections.

Forklift safety signs and stickers are important in keeping workers safe in any workplace where forklifts are operated. By choosing the right signs and stickers for your workplace, you can help remind workers of the potential hazards associated with operating these machines and help prevent accidents.

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