Can Forklift Accidents Be Preventable

Warehouse worker operates a forklift
Warehouse worker operates a forklift

Many forklift related factors can cause accidents. Grouping them into specific categories may help to analyze incidents and, eventually, to prevent them.

Pedestrian Collisions

To show an injured worker caused by a forklift
A worker injured by forklift

Every day collisions take place between forklifts and pedestrians walking around the warehouse. There are many things that can be done to prevent forklift and pedestrian accidents.

  • Separate the pedestrian and forklift traffic by creating designated walkways or travel ways.
  • Restrict people from entering areas where the forklift is operating. If not possible, develop safe work procedures to protect workers when they must enter areas where forklifts are operating.
  • Keep a safe distance from the forklift whenever possible.
  • Pedestrians should always let the driver know they are in the area. Make eye contact with the driver to ensure your presence is known.
  • Make sure the area is well lit and there are no obstructions.
  • Be cautious near blind corners, doorways, and narrow aisles. Sound the forklift horn at intersections.
  • Use high-visibility clothing, where appropriate.
  • Limit forklift travel speed.
  • Do not walk near or under raised forks.
  • Do not load the forklift in a way that restricts the driver’s viewing area.
  • Avoid driving forklift near areas where pedestrian traffic is high (e.g., lunch rooms, time clocks, entrances/exits).


Can A Warehouse Design Cause Forklift Accidents?

Yes they can, there are many things that can contribute to an accident if the warehouse is not setup correctly. Here are a few things that can contribute to forklift accidents.

  • Narrow aisles.
  • Crowded, cluttered aisles.
  • Shelving that has components that could hit or intrude into the operator area.
  • Obstructions at intersections and doors.
  • Volume of traffic in the work area
  • Other workplace conditions such as noise, or poor lighting.
  • Flooring with different types of surfaces.

There are many factors that can cause an accident involving a forklift

OSHA has some accidents that they were investigating and has plenty of relevance to what we are talking about here take a look and see all the different types of accidents that can happen.

Forklifts are dangerous
Worker being attended too after being injured
  • Travelling at excessive speed.
  • Riding with the load elevated.
  • Improper backing up techniques.
  • Improper turning, braking or accelerating.
  • Improper warnings to others about a forklift in use nearby.
  • Riding or giving rides on forklift or load.
  • Parking the forklift improperly.
  • Improper blocking of wheels on semi-trailers or railway cars.
  • Horseplay; stunt driving; jerky, erratic driving.
  • Inadequate servicing of the forklift.

Can Mechanical Problems With A Forklift Cause Accidents

Forklifts like an automobile need to be properly maintained, if proper maintenance is not kept up and accident can happen. Here are a few things that can contribute to forklift accidents.

  • Malfunction of brakes.
  • Malfunction of steering.
  • Malfunction of clutch, shift linkage, or transmission.
  • Malfunction of mast assembly.
  • Leaks in hydraulic systems or transmission.
  • Safety devices lacking, inadequate, or malfunctioning.

There are other factors that can cause forklift accidents such as

  • Materials improperly stacked or piled on the pallet in a way that result in an unstable load.
  • Pallets that are broken and damaged
  • Heavy loads
  • Loads that are to large and unstable or blocking vision.

So the answer too: Can Forklift Accidents Be Preventable? I believe they can be, continued education and training can help prevent these types of accidents in the workplace.

For more information about forklift safety and how accidents can be prevented, check out our blog

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