All industries have their hazards: nurses are exposed to illnesses, construction workers face the risk of falls, and scientists often handle corrosive or flammable materials. When it comes to using a forklift, the dangers are more specific. To ensure any forklift equipment specialists are properly prepared to operate this piece of machinery, we've listed the four biggest risks involved.
- Maneuvering: Because forklifts use rear-end steering, they do not move in the same way a car does. This difference allows for a tight turn radius in the front of the forklift -- which is beneficial in small warehouse corridors -- but causes the back end to swing wide. If the driver is not paying attention, they can damage the merchandise -- or hurt someone standing nearby.
- Blind spots: The average forklift can carry between one and five tons of product. When this massive weight is piled on the forks, the operator may struggle with visibility; many equipment specialists drive in reverse so they can see, but they still experience blind spots. Any pedestrians should either steer clear of such large loads, or make their presence well-known to the driver.
- Load stability: In addition to not being able to see clearly, loads can become unstable in certain conditions, such as when operating on inclines, on wet and oily surfaces, and on rough terrain. When loads are raised, the balance of the forklift shifts and can affect its stability. As a pedestrian, it's better to simply stay away from these areas.
- Fueling: Whether your forklifts are gas or electric, the hazards of refueling and recharging are particularly dangerous. Diesel and propane are obviously highly flammable, and battery recharging operations generate flammable hydrogen gas. In short, never smoke near a lift that's refueling or recharging.
Did you know that injuries caused by forklifts constitute 10% of all injuries that occur in warehouses and factories? Whether you rely on forklifts to manage a warehouse or use the massive tools for other purposes, only someone with equipment expertise should be allowed to operate them. Forklift operators (also known as equipment specialists) are trained and authorized with the knowledge necessary to avoid the above hazards.