Forklifts are very handy machines for lifting and carrying heavy loads throughout a warehouse, as well as for loading and unloading cargo from large trucks. But these machines can be dangerous if not used correctly in a Missouri workplace. Injuries may likely result from improper use to both lift operators and pedestrians who walk in close proximity to an operating forklift.

Operating a forklift requires great awareness on the part of the operator. A failure to heed surroundings can lead to any number of forklift accidents and resulting injury. According to OSHA, forklifts can present several hazards that operators should account for as they drive a forklift throughout a facility.

Pedestrians

Forklift operators should permit ample room for pedestrians to clear a forklift’s path. Even if the driver believes the forklift to be visible and audible, a pedestrian could still be distracted by the noise of the facility. Some people may also not be aware of how sharp or how quickly a forklift can turn and will not give the forklift adequate space. Forklift operators should always look in the direction they are traveling, forward or behind.

Turning

Many forklifts operate in warehouses where products are stacked on shelves. While shelf isles can permit a forklift through, an operator should not overestimate how much space that exists to make a turn. A turn that is too wide can impact a shelf or a palette of goods, which can cause materials to fall from above or the forklift to even fall over. Additionally, the tail end of the forklift swings in the opposite direction of the turn and could impact a solid object or a person.

Tipping Over

Forklifts often carry heavy loads, so drivers should be careful that the added weight does not cause the lift to tip over. Inclines, for instance, can be perilous if the forklift turns while on the incline itself. Lift drivers should make turns before they reach the incline. Also, if the incline does not have a railing or barrier, a lift could tip over the side of the incline and fall to the ground below. The Occupational Safety and Hazard website points out that 42 percent of forklift fatalities result from a lift tipping over, so preventing tip over incidents can cut down on many forklift accidents.