Blogs - 2023 Article

The four main causes of forklift accidents (and how to avoid them)

Forklifts account for over 1000 workplace accidents every year, with some leading to serious injury and even death. Given how many forklifts are used every day across the country, it’s not a terribly high number. However, one injury or death due to forklift use is too many – everyone deserves to leave their workplace as healthy and well as they entered. The last thing anyone wants is to have yourself or a colleague be a statistic, so it’s important to do whatever you can to avoid the causes of forklift injury. With that, here are some of the most common causes of injury and how to ensure they don’t occur on your watch.

Tipping forklifts

Forklifts are designed to not tip over forward or sideways, with the centre of gravity at the base between the front wheels and the rear axle pivot (which basically forms a triangle of stability). However, this works at peak efficiency when the forklift is being used as intended, in a safe way by a licensed operator.

Operating the forklift in any way beyond its capabilities is going to put you and others at risk; this mostly includes having the right forklift in the right environments, sizes and terrain, and adhering to the individual forklift’s load weight and height capacity. It also includes securing loads, not cutting corners in operation (such as driving the forklift fast, turning while lifting a load, and not sitting safely and securely in the machine at all times).

Going against any of the safety and operating guidelines of the forklift means you can have weight too heavy on one side, operating on unsecure terrain beyond the forklift’s capacity or creating unnecessary hazards means the forklift’s stability mechanism is at risk of failing. 

The best way to ensure your forklift doesn’t tip is to keep loads and weights within capacity, operating as and where it was designed to be operated (this includes double checking for hazards like potholes along your intended path) will keep your forklift from falling over.

Forklifts driving off loading docks

Regardless of how safe a forklift is, operator error can be the biggest culprit of forklift accidents. One of them is having forklifts driving off loading docks accidentally. Getting distracted while operating, being too tired at the helm or simply having a slip in judgement can cause these kinds of accidents. Human error is difficult to predict, but the consequences can be immense. 

The best ways to ensure this type of incident is avoided is to keep operators alert, and safety processes in place to prompt accurate operation of machines. 

This includes, though is not limited to:

  • Ensuring Forklift operators conduct the necessary pre-start checklists prior to using the machine.

  • Alertness processes in place for the operator (check ins and checks for fatigue levels)

  • Safety processes to ensure the forklift is on the appropriately sized dock base for the forklift (the forklift isn’t too large etc.)

  • Use the Telematics system to ensure the operator is adequately licenced for the forklift they’re driving

People being struck by forklifts

Forklift accidents put people at risk, and the safety of people onsite is the number one priority for all worksites. Being struck by a forklift can cause serious injury and can be fatal. A combination of the machine being used as it is intended, the operator being licensed and alert and safety processes in place will significantly reduce the risk of someone being hit by a forklift. 

Additionally, every person onsite must, legally, engage in a safety induction (which may or may not be daily, depending on the regulations under your specific industry and work environment). This will include regulations on forklift paths around the worksite, distance to stand or walk from a forklift and forklift speed restrictions. 

Comprehensively educating all people on your worksite of the high safety standards and procedures, as well as the high expectation to adhere to them, will keep an accident like being struck by a forklift from occurring on your worksite. 

Looking for a licensed operator to keep forklift work safe? Talk to our team today about our operator hire.