Lift trucks, also known as forklifts, are specialized vehicles used for industrial use. The main purpose of lift trucks is to move pallets, crates, and boxes over a distance. In this article, we will talk about the 3 most common lift truck accidents and will also discuss how you can prevent those accidents. 

3 Common Lift Truck Accidents and How to prevent them

 While lift trucks are indispensable for moving heavy cargo, they must be operated safely. Depending on the size of the lift truck, the operator may control the vehicle while walking along it or driving by sitting in it. Each variety of lift trucks can cause hazards.

 Companies are expected to ensure that every lift truck operator has proper training and can operate the vehicle. Here are some common lift truck accidents and how you can prevent them:

Crushing or Hitting a Pedestrian

Many pedestrians get seriously injured at the hands of lift trucks annually, and in most cases, the victim dies. Sometimes, the victim is also crushed under the weight of the lift truck. 

These accidents typically occur when workers or lift trucks are working in the same place or the lift trucks are moving stuff around and collide with pedestrians. These accidents require separate and clear paths for pedestrians and lift trucks. 

Prevention

To prevent these accidents, physical barriers should be put in place. These barriers will separate the pedestrians from the lift trucks, and no collision will occur. While painting lines on the road is a positive start, they hardly prevent accidents or collisions and are just reminders that forklifts should stay away from pedestrians.

To understand where barriers should be placed, you must evaluate high-traffic areas and intersections. By evaluating these areas, you will be able to discover the danger zones. Then, you will have to decide whether there should be specially designated areas for forklifts or pedestrians. 

Where ever it is appropriate, you should make pathways for pedestrians and erect rails or gates to stop them from crossing into the lift truck’s path. Rails or gates will also keep the lift trucks away from pedestrians.

However, most lift truck accidents take place because of low visibility. Operators can also put on hi-vis safety clothing; it will go a long way in reducing accidents. Pedestrians also need to put on brightly-colored clothes to alert lift truck operators and make eye contact with operators to make them aware of their presence. 

Lift truck operators can install mirrors, lights, sensors, and horns in the lift truck to ensure pedestrians can see them easily. 

Lift Truck Overturns

The overturns of lift trucks are the biggest cause of fatalities involving forklifts. There are many reasons why a lift truck overturns; here are some of them:

  • Driving on wet or uneven surfaces
  • Incorrect turning
  • Driving with an elevated load
  • Giving, stopping, or turning the truck’s gas quickly
  • Driving on an inclining surface

Prevention

To prevent overturns, operators must always follow the speeding guidelines provided by the vehicle manufacturer or their employer. Lift truck operators must take turns smoothly and avoid suddenly starting or stopping the lift truck. This can throw the lift truck off balance.

You should never overload the lift truck, as the weight can cause the vehicle to tip sideways or forward. Ensure the lift truck is low to the ground when it has a load. 

Please only raise the vehicle enough to clear the surface. It is also not a good idea to lower or raise the load while the forklift is in motion. When moving up or down a slope, go slowly. Always move backward or forward; never move at an angle.

Standing on the Lift Truck Forks 

If you are a lift truck operator, please never stand on the lift truck’s forks and be elevated. While it is tempting, and some people might do it for convenience, it is dangerous, and the operator can fall from the forks. The fall can cause serious injuries such as impalement, internal bleeding, broken bones, and head trauma. Here are some reasons why operators fall from the forks:

  • Prioritizing convenience over safety
  • No aerial lifts are available
  • Unrestrained or unapproved lifting forks

Prevention

If you plan to stand on the forks, you will need to take some steps to ensure your safety. To prevent falling, don’t cut corners and slow down the vehicle on turns. You can take your time to pick the right tools for the task, even if it takes time. 

Secondly, you should always use proper equipment to complete tasks. A multi-purpose built elevating platform, a man lift, or a scissor lift are perfect platform options for reaching heights safely.

Lastly, you can use a lifting cage that has been certified for use. The cage should have a barrier and guardrails separating the mast from the personnel. The workers in the cage should also wear a harness and ensure the forks are attached to the lift. This will prevent the platform from falling or shifting.

How effective is Lift Truck training in preventing Accidents?

When it comes to lifting truck training, there is a big difference between telling a person and showing them how to operate machinery, such as the lift truck safely. Training for lift trucks produces better results involving hands-on training and in-class lectures. 

If the operators get proper training, they can perform their duties effectively, lowering accidents associated with lift trucks. To operate a forklift, a person needs to have certification. A certified lift truck operator can simplify inspection procedures and keep the lift trucks well-maintained.

Certified operators can also recognize maintenance issues abruptly and will get them fixed before they lead to an accident. Lift truck training can also produce advantageous results because it improves a company’s overall operations.

Well-trained operators can perform their duties properly and within a proper time frame. The safer the operators, the better their chances of reducing accidents and improving their efficiency. The safety precautions the operators take will also make the workplace safer for other workers and especially pedestrians.

However, how often should lift truck training take place for operators? Those operators who have never received lift truck training should complete the training course and get themselves certified. If you cannot find a training program, check with your insurance program, and see if there are any active training programs taking place in your area or not.

Some regulatory laws and insurance companies will mandate that lift truck training are mandatory, so every year, operators will be re-certified. However, regardless of regulatory or insurance company requirements, every operator should take lift truck training to ensure the safety of pedestrians. Companies should always ensure that their operators are trained and can use accessories and attachments. 

Conclusion

This article thoroughly discussed the 3 most common lift truck accidents. However, we didn’t just list down the accidents; we also mentioned how you could prevent them. This will enable companies and lift truck operators to take safety precautions and ensure no accidents occur.

We also shed some light on how important lift truck training is in reducing lift truck accidents. We mentioned that certified operators are better at following safety guidelines and regulations than uncertified ones.