A Guide to Forklift Safety - Part Three

A Guide to Forklift Safety - Part Three

Forklifts and pedestrians can be a dangerous combination. According to the National Traumatic Occupational Fatality Surveillance System, more than 35% of forklift fatalities from 1980 to 1994 were as a result of accidents involving forklifts and pedestrians.

To minimise risk, forklift traffic areas should be separated from pedestrian traffic areas, ideally with a physical barrier and all employees should receive safety training about the dangers involved in working near forklifts.

It is important that forklift drivers do not drive up to anyone who is standing in front of a fixed object. If they do, they run the risk of the pedestrian being crushed between the forklift and the object.

All employee should be aware that they are not to stand, work or pass beneath the elevated part of the forklift, regardless of whether it is loaded or not.

When you are driving a forklift, if you are near pedestrians, you should alert other employees to your presence by sounding the horn. If the ambient noise level where you work is high, then your forklift should have flashing lights, to make employees aware you are there just in case there is a risk that the horn will not be heard.

Enclosed spaces

If you are driving your forklift in enclosed spaces, extra vigilance is required. There needs to be special safety precautions for you to follow so that potentially serious injuries can be avoided. It is also important that you avoid prolonged use of a gas or liquid propane forklift when in an enclosed space …

Extended use of gas or propane forklifts in enclosed areas is dangerous and may lead to a build-up of carbon monoxide gas, which is emitted in the forklift’s exhaust is dangerous because it displaces oxygen in the air. A forklift operator who is exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide gas, may become ill due to a lack of oxygen. Carbon monoxide gas is odourless, tasteless and colourless so you may not be aware of an issue until it is too late.

Potential enclosed spaces where this extra vigilance is required include cold storage rooms, trailers, rail road cars and warehouses, but there are many more examples. If you are unsure, you should speak to your supervisor and they will be able to clarify it for you.

To help avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in enclosed work areas, use electric forklifts or properly placed carbon monoxide detection monitors in the areas the forklifts are used.

Forklifts were designed to make the workplace more productive but they need to be operated safely and efficiently to achieve this goal. Safe and efficient operation of a forklift requires training, skill and practice.

You should consider implementing and following the safety training tips and techniques detailed in this and our other blogs in this mini-series about Forklift Safety. They were designed to improve the safety awareness of the forklift operator in the workplace.

To go in to these points in more detail, and learn how to operate a forklift safely, consider taking the Forklift Training Course that we offer …

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