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Preventing Forklift Accidents, Part 1

Forklift trucks are everywhere, from supermarkets to construction sites. However, a recent forklift accident that killed a worker in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn reminds us that these are dangerous machines that can cause injury or death . It is important to have the right training on the operation of the forklift to prevent accidents. Additionally, keeping machines like this properly maintained and serviced is critical to their safe operation.

The website of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety offers some important information about staying safe when operating a forklift. These are universal and apply whether a worker lives in Canada, Brighton Beach or anywhere else in New York City.

Operator error, especially when proper training is lacking, can contribute to forklift accidents. Travelling too fast, reversing and turning incorrectly, riding with an elevated load, giving rides or riding on a loaded forklift, blocking wheels incorrectly, parking improperly and rising with the load elevated can all contribute to accidents.

In addition to a lack of training and poor maintenance, forklift accidents can result from an employer's effort to speed up work, causing stress and bad judgment. Other factors include incorrect or missing tools and attachments. A third issue is the age of the machines - old machines have fewer safety features, and are more likely to operate unpredictably

The way a workplace is designed can either prevent or contribute to forklift accidents. Narrow and crowded aisles, too much traffic in the work area, noise and poor lighting, and doors that fail to open completely can all result in forklift accidents. The condition of ramps and loading docks can also be a factor in forklift accidents.

This is the first in a two-part post about preventing workplace injuries from forklift accidents. This second post discusses issues such as proper loading, mechanical problems and preventing accidents to passersby.

Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health Safety, "Forklift Trucks - Common Factors in Forklift Accidents," June 7, 2013.