forklift safety will help your improve your work and save your companyNow that you have completed your forklift training and obtained your certification, it is now time for you to learn forklift safety. Many operators think that getting certified is the end of the process. They are wrong! Operators need to practice safety in the workplace at all times when started working for a company.

There are many hazards that post threats to your safety at work. Work process is a never ending practice. The best way to protect yourself or your workers is to undertake a safety training periodically. The more frequent it is, the better you can protect yourself.

This section tackles how you can be safe every time you are working with forklift. You can browse the different subjects included in this page. We have prepared the information and explained the details for easy understanding. Anyway, you can read on to check how safety and health could help you be productive and away from danger.

Determining the Type of TruckYou Want to Get Trained To Will Enhance Forklift Safety Awareness

This is why before you delve into getting certified driving fork truck, you need to identify what truck you are intending to operate. The course must be specific to the type of forklift you want to get certified on. During the training course, the safety trainer will spend a lot of time discussing about health and safety.

Each type has its own operating controls and characteristics. For example, an electric forklift has different recharging procedure, operating purpose and intended function from gas-powered trucks. Electric is commonly found indoors, while gas powered is intended for use outdoors. Working inside the warehouse is not the same as working outside. Warehouse is tight and confined, forklift operators may encounter many hazards such as near misses, property damage incidents, and many others. While working outdoors, where there are more operating space, these risks can be not present but other risks still persist like environment/weather condition exposure (extreme heat or cold, sun exposure), vehicular accidents, noise and air pollutions.

Another example is counterbalance forklift and reach truck. Because of speed and ease of use lifting materials in pallet by counterbalance forklift, safety of the people around is at risk. Operators can load big objects that could hamper their visibility and can it carry heavy loads that can cause tip over when driven in slopes and ramps. According to OSHA regulation, if the load on a forklift blocks the forward view, the truck can be driven in reverse with clear view of the surrounding. When driving a forklift the forks should be at what height? This is the common question of driver operating forklifts. The answer is to drive with a ground clearance of 4 to 6 inches at the end of the tips of the forks, and 2 inches at the heels.

On the other hand, reach truck is commonly utilized in retail establishments the associated forklift safety concerns about its use is falling of load. Rearward collision is another risk. Such situation exists when a collision with the racking component, the component can enter operator’s compartment that could hit him, the result could be serious injury, or at the worst case scenario is fatality.

Forklift operators must be trained on the different aspects of these equipment-specific dangers.

Forklift Safety in the Workplace Must Also Be Addressed

In compliance with OSHA 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(3)(ii), forklift operator training must compose of workplace-related topics that discuss the road surface condition, foot traffic and behavior of the workers around the workplace, operation in restricted and hazardous places, ramps and slopes presents in the workplace that could affect the driving stability of the forklifts, confined areas and places where CO gas can be accumulate during operation of a gas or diesel-powered trucks, and other possible workplace hazards that could post risk to the health and safety of the operators.

But the topics to deliver don’t end there. Every workplace is different. Hazards in every workplace are diverse because of the nature of the business operation. Therefore, an employer must identify and asses them, and provide such operator safety training specific to the present dangers.

Did you know a poor workplace design and maintenance can contribute to creation forklift accidents?

  • Crowded aisle with people simultaneously working in the sale place obviously is a recipe for disaster. This is when people could be hit and run over by the forklift. Safety officer, if present, can schedule a job prior to commencing another. An adequate safety and warning notices must be installed to caution the workers.
  • Narrow aisle is factor of accident occurrence. The width of the aisle will depend on the forklift truck being operated in the workplace. Though there is no width standard, employer must ensure adequate clearance room. It is also important to clear it from any sharp bits and pieces that could blow the tires especially when large and heavy load is being transported.
  • Obstruction and other unwanted large materials that should not be there at the intersection can post great risk also. It could introduce collision with other vehicles in the area and accident to workers unaware of the approaching forklift.
  • Poor housekeeping. Housekeeping is not just about cleanliness, it means keeping the workplace organized and orderly free from hazard. When an employer does not prioritize regular workplace housekeeping, accident rate could rise affecting the productivity of the workers and profit of the business. My experience has shown that housekeeping must be an integral part of any safety program, whatever nature of business the employer is involved to.
  • Other factors such as poor lighting, air and noise pollution are aspects contributing to accidents too.

Most companies cannot perform operation without forklifts, and related accident will be inevitable. Proper reporting must be implemented not to annoy the management but to properly act on it accordingly.

Forklift Safety Can Be Improved Through Accident Reporting

Regular reporting and record keeping of accidents can help employers mitigate the occurrence of the accident and lessen the potentiality of hazards in the workplace. If employer can maintain accident record, it could help them to develop risk analysis that could be integrated into their safety program.

Finding the root cause of the accident can prevent the recurrence. In such accident investigation, a 360 degree assessment must be conducted. Someone who is conducting an investigation should always determine the causes and contributing factors. Correct accident investigation can improve forklift safety and reduce business operation cost. In such accident, the investigation must answer different questions such as has the forklift operator received sufficient training and has previously been engaged in such accident, was it operator mistake or machine error, has the forklift itself involved in such accident in the past, has the truck maintained regularly, was it regularly inspected by the supervisor prior to work commencement, what topics to be delivered to involved operators to address such accident.

A safety officer of the company or a representative who is assigned to do such task, should develop a database, log or inventory of the accidents.

Here's a sample video of forklift accident:


How Forklift Operator Can Report Their Safety-Related Complaints

The forklift operators have the right to a safe workplace. It is in the employer’s accountability to provide them with such protection. If you are a worker and you believe that your employer is violating your right, you can file a complaint. If you are in the United States, you can deliver your complaint to OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). If you are situated in United Kingdom, you may contact HSE at 0345 300 9923. in Australia, forklift operators can take their concerns to nearest WorkSafe Office, you can visit their site at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au, to know more how. In Canada, the Ministry of Labour is the office answering such concern.

Conclusion

We all have been there and witnessed many things. It is no secret that when working with forklifts there will be hazards involved. It is impossible to eliminate them with entirety but we can mitigate the occurrence of severe accident.

Implementation of forklift safety program must be an integral part of the company. It can save you from lot of troubles and headaches.

Does OSHA requires fire extinguishers to be fitted on forkliftsFire extinguisher is an important tool that needs to be placed in the different locations in the workplace. The most common type of industrial emergency is fire. It is also important to provide the appropriate type of fire extinguisher based on the kind risk exist in the workplace. Workers including forklift operators must be familiar with its use and application. OSHA mandates employers to supply such training and familiarize the employees about emergency evacuation.

Now, if you were asking are fire extinguishers need to be mounted in forklifts, we have provided the answer for the question below and cited federal regulations to elaborate the applicable laws about the use fire extinguisher.

OSHA’s latest Powered Industrial Trucks standard (29 CFR 1910.178) does not mention the use of fire extinguisher but it is a good practice to equip the forklifts with them. However, there are relevant federal laws governing the use and provision that must be followed. Here they are:

Related Laws Requiring the Provision of Fire Extinguisher

  • The OSHA 29 CFR 1910.157 standard is about fire protection. This regulation requires companies to place portable fire extinguisher for the use the employees and provision of emergency action and fire prevention plan. Click here to read (2). Though, the standard does not state about requirements on forklifts, however, it does clearly mentioned that it should be readily available for employees use to combat fires, it must be specific to the class of fire accident that may occur.
  • If you were in Texas, the State Office of Risk Management (SORM), mandates the provision of fire extinguisher, it was specifically stated in their RMTSA Vol. III, Section Two, Chapter 6, Subchapter 6.18 - Powered industrial trucks such as forklifts must be fitted with a portable fire extinguisher and it should be attach to noticeable location, the type of extinguisher must be in accordance with the class of fire that may occur, workers operating the trucks must be educated on the proper use of the extinguisher, further reading, click here (1).
  • The National Fire Protection Association code and standard, NFPA 505, 2006 edition, paragraph 9, address the provision of portable fire extinguishers to lessen possible fire accidents involving forklifts, the location where it is mounted to make it accessible shall be in accordance with its manufacturer’s recommended advice.
  • In addition, OSHA does require the provision of fire extinguishers whenever necessary or where there are source of ignition. Forklifts could be powered by gasoline, diesel, liquefied petroleum gas, or electric, whatever type of truck you are operating, it poses fire hazard during refueling or recharging.

Forklift Manufacturers Originally Fitted Its Truck

If the forklift manufacturer equips its truck with fire extinguisher, the employer shall maintain and check the extinguisher, making it readily available and in good use whenever needed. The employer shall not modify the forklift, alter its function and remove any equipment that could hamper the safe use of the truck without written consent or authorization of the original manufacturer.

Other OSHA Requirements

  • OSHA requires inspection of fire extinguishers installed in the workplace in monthly basis. Employers shall documents its maintenance inspection in regular or annual basis. Each fire extinguisher must be attached with an inspection tag, label its inspection date accordingly to make a record of it.
  • OSHA requires the mounting/installation of fire extinguishers in designated height to make it accessible to employees. Portable fire extinguishers must be mounted in cabinets or braces, 3.5 feet to 5 feet above the floor surface. If the extinguishers are larger carrying more weight and volume, it must be placed 3 feet above the floor.
  • OSHA requires that the fire extinguisher must be easily identified in the workplace. There are chances that they are blocked from view, materials and equipments in the workplace could block it being displayed. It is a good practice to put a sign, symbol or a mark making it recognizable by people.

To Answer This Question

It is true fact that numerous and big companies use forklifts in their daily business operation to carry and transport heavy materials from place to place. These companies must adhere to afore-mentioned laws, therefore, fire extinguishers are required whenever forklift is being operated. It is also a good practice however to install it on the forklift especially when the truck is to be operated in a location where there is no fire extinguisher provision, in places such as roads, lay down areas, construction sites, or anywhere outdoors.

It would be advisable to fit the forklifts with designated fire extinguisher. LP-gas powered truck can be fitted with class C extinguisher such as dry powder. Gas and diesel powered truck can be installed with class B such as foam extinguisher. For electric forklifts, the designated extinguisher is class E such as CO2 fire extinguisher.

Fire Extinguishers You Can Buy for Your Forklifts

If you are now decided fitting your forklifts with fire extinguisher, here are what we recommend:

Amerex B456 ABC Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher with Aluminum Valve, 10 lb.

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