Forklifts are particularly dangerous in the workplace, especially since accidents involving forklifts in warehouses are down to a combination of poor supervision and a lack of training. While these machines are useful, they can be a source of great danger.
To make the use of forklifts easier and a lot safer, here are nine important warehouse forklift safety rules to follow.
Before each shift, make sure you examine your forklift for safety purposes. Avoid operating a forklift that needs repairing or maintenance as you’ll put yourself and others in danger. Inform supervisors of the issues you’ve identified and only use a forklift that’s fit for purpose. Only start it up when you’re correctly seated and fastened the seatbelt to ensure added safety.
2. Appropriate Clothing
While it’s not directly impacting the forklift, you need to wear appropriate safety clothing consisting of hard hats, safety shoes and high-vis jackets. Make sure they’re reasonably fitted too so that loose clothing doesn’t get caught in the machinery.
3. Unattended Forklifts
Never leave your forklift unattended when it’s being operated. Also, don’t leave the keys in an unattended forklift as it’s not only illegal but it’s a huge safety hazard even without an actual accident taking place.
Know and understand the lifting capacity of the forklift. Don’t take shortcuts, such as trying to make fewer trips by loading too much weight as it's dangerous to yourself and other workers. Never load the forklift beyond its approved capacity so that plummeting loads aren’t a hazard to others as they can also obstruct your view.
Make sure the load is stable, secure and evenly distributed before moving off and only follow the designated roadways that have been mapped out.
5. Refuel and Park
Once your shift is over, make sure you park the forklift safely in the designated or authorised area. Fully lower the forks to the ground and apply the parking brake before turning the forklift off and removing the key.
When it comes to refuelling, the forklift should only be refuelled at specially designated locations when the forklift is switched off.
6. Alert and Attentive
Always be alert and attentive to your surroundings. Avoid hazards on the floor by avoiding bumps and avoid unloading and loading objects on ramps. Make sure you alert others that you're approaching with a horn or your voice, keep a safe distance from other workers and forklifts and only stop when you have enough space to stop safely.
Make sure you’re always in complete control of the forklift by staying in the seat and keeping your body within the frame of the vehicle at all times. Keep your seatbelt on for protection in case the forklift ever topples and never allow unauthorised people to drive or operate the forklift.
Also, never operate a forklift with wet or greasy hands or poor footwear. You can easily slip or slide and cause an accident.
8. Fast Movement
When you’re driving, always drive, stop, turn and lift or lower the forks as smoothly as possible and avoid fast movement. Sudden turns can topple a load or even throw the entire forklift off balance which makes it a bigger hazard for you and those around you. Be extra careful when navigating ramps and inclines.
Always check your surroundings carefully before turning or backing up the forklift. Keep in mind that other workers in the warehouse might be walking or standing behind one of your blind spots or behind obstacles. Avoid putting them in danger by driving slowly and always checking around you.
How to Ensure Your Own Safety
Before anything, make sure your employer has put you through the right training so that you’re certified and qualified. These rules are important so that you’re safe when operating the forklift and you aren’t putting anybody else in danger either.
Other than asking for training, ask your employer or management to enforce forklift safety rules throughout the warehouse which is a way of ensuring your own safety in the workplace.
Although your employer needs to create a safe working environment, it’s also your own duty of care that you’re working safely. Don’t cut corners as they can only lead you to more hazards.
Always stay alert. There are going to be plenty of forklifts in warehouses and you can easily run into trouble if you lose focus. Follow and adhere to all of the warehouse safety signs and wear the correct PPE in relevant areas, such as slip-resistant footwear so that you’re safe and comfortable when on your feet all day.
Find Out More About Warehouse Safety
Now that you know the most important warehouse forklift safety rules to stick to, it’s time to improve the rest of the working conditions in the warehouse too.
We’ve created a free and comprehensive guide for you to download. It uncovers the truth about working in a warehouse from the risks you need to consider to safety questions you need to ask about your workplace.
Download the Warehouse Safety Standards guide below for everything you need to know.