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Preventing Forklift Accidents, Part 2

A previous blog post discussed steps that employers and workers can take to prevent forklift accidents such as the one that recently killed a worker in Brooklyn. This post outlines preventive measures involving nearby pedestrians, mechanical problems with equipment and the importance of correct loading techniques that can reduce the incidence of this type of workplace accident.

Like tractor trailers, forklifts must be loaded properly for safe operation. A load must be properly stacked or piled on a pallet. Pallets must be sturdy enough to hold the load being lifted. The load must not block the sight area of the operation, and the load must not exceed the weight for which the machine was designed.

Like other motor vehicles, forklifts can be involved in accidents because of mechanical conditions such as faulty brakes, malfunctioning steering mechanism, hydraulic leaks, design problems such as blind spots where the operator cannot see properly and awkward layout of controls and switches can all contribute to forklift accidents.

Forklifts don't just injure workers, but they also injure pedestrians and passersby. There are things that employers can do to reduce the risk of forklift accidents that injure others. One is to enforce separate, designated pathways for equipment and pedestrians. Another is to restrict people from entering areas where forklifts are in use. Require workers to sound the forklift horn at intersections and to go slowly at blind corners, doors and narrow aisles.

Enforcing rules and precautions such as these can help prevent workplace accidents and injuries to employees, customers and passersby.

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