Moving Forward with Forklift Safety

National Forklift Safety Day, sponsored by the Industrial Truck Association, will serves as a focal

National Forklift Safety Day, sponsored by the Industrial Truck Association, will serves as a focal point for manufacturers to highlight the safe use of forklifts and importance of operator training. This day provides an opportunity for the industry to educate customers, policymakers and the administration on forklift operating safety practices.

OSHA enforces regulations regarding the manufacture and operation of industrial trucks. The Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation (ITSDF), which is accredited by ANSI, and UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.) develop the safety standards for designing and manufacturing industrial trucks. National Forklift Safety Day will provide greater awareness of safe practices and in turn encourage safer behavior.

In honor of National Forklift Safety Day, here are some safety tips when working with forklifts:

Pedestrian safety tips to follow when working with forklifts:

  • Use dedicated pedestrian walkways:
    Pedestrian walkways are similar to sidewalks and crosswalks found on our streets and roads.
  • Stop, look and listen for oncoming traffic:
    Forklift operators are trained to honk the lift truck’s horn when crossing an intersection, when going around corners, and whenever their vision might be obstructed. Be aware of these sounds.
  • Make eye contact with drivers:
    Just like everyday vehicle, forklifts have blind spots. When you make eye contact with drivers, this ensures that the operator is aware of your presence.
  • Know that a truck needs adequate time to stop:
    Forklifts are very heavy pieces of equipment that are designed to carry heavy loads. Likewise, lift trucks are not designed to stop suddenly. Rather, they are designed to minimize the damage to the load and to maintain stability.
  • Stand clear of lift trucks in operation:
    One of the forklift operator’s jobs is to keep the product from being damaged. Therefore, the operator might be focused on the pallet load and not aware of a person standing around the lift truck.
  • Put the phone down:
    Do not walk and talk or walk and text. Using your cell phone reduces your awareness of both operators and pedestrians.

It is important that forklift drivers are also aware of pedestrians in the warehouse. Following are the top safety tips for lift truck operators to follow:

  • Always perform daily forklift safety inspection first:
    The operator should conduct a pre-start visual check with the key off and then perform an operational check with the engine running. The forklift should not be placed in service if the examinations show that the vehicle may not be safe to operate.
  • Give pedestrians the right-of-way:
    Always stop when pedestrians walk across your planned route. Wait until the person or people have passed by and continue cautiously through any congested area.
  • Never drive close to anyone:
    If there is not enough space to travel, warn pedestrians and ask them to move.
  • Look in the direction of travel:
    If there is not a clear view, do not move the lift truck.
  • Stop and sound the horn when approaching an intersection, crosswalk or exiting an aisle:
    Warn pedestrians and other forklift operators that a forklift is coming.
  • Approach and leave aisles slowly:
    Drive cautiously and use alarms when entering and exiting warehouse aisles.

It is important that precautions are taken when charging batteries at your facility.

  • No smoking or open flame near batteries:
    Gases produced by a battery may be explosive. Keep the charging area well ventilated.
  • Make sure that charging plugs and receptacles are secure and free from friction:
     A loose connection may mean sparking or arcing near highly explosive gas mixtures.
  • Keep metal objects off battery:
    A battery is electrically live at all times. Metal objects can conduct electricity, resulting in a shock. For this reason, do not lay metal objects on a battery. Do not wear jewelry while servicing a battery. Use only insulated tools when working on a battery.
  • Turn off the charger prior to disconnecting the battery:
    Keep the charger turned off and unplugged while attaching or detaching clamp connections.
  • Only add water to batteries after charging is finished:
    Only water after the battery is 100% charged. Do not add water until visual inspection shows the tops of the separators/plates are visible.
  • Wear protective personal equipment:
    This includes safety goggles, face shields, rubber or neoprene gloves and aprons.
  • Utilize properly sized chargers: Different fleets require different forklift battery changers, and matching the equipment to the vehicle is crucial. Power Designers Sibex can help size our REVOLUTION charger to meet your specific application.

pdfDownload our Forklift Safety Poster