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Important tips for driving a forklift safely

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Posted on December 28, 2016

Working in an industrial or warehouse environment requires a special skill set, but it requires a special knowledge of safety, too. There are many risks in this type of workplace that may not be present elsewhere, so learning them and taking preventative action is essential to avoiding unnecessary injuries. The following four tips can help you be conscientious when you operate a forklift and minimize some of the most common risks it involves.

Be aware of foot traffic

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, forklift drivers should always yield to pedestrians, drive slowly and use the horn in areas where there may be foot traffic. These and other safety tips are imperative to learn because accidents involving pedestrians and powered industrial trucks can be some of the deadliest. Other important principles to follow include maintaining a clear view at all times, using a spotter if you encounter a blind spot and communicating with other personnel while driving.

Inspect the machine for potential problems

As a forklift operator, y ou should be aware of common issues with the truck and how to identify and troubleshoot them. Driving a machine that might have a mechanical issue is a risk to yourself and everybody else in your work environment, so when you notice that the steering wheel seems to stick or the mast fails to function properly, don’t ignore the problem. Report it to your supervisor and find another machine that is working smoothly to drive.

Obey all speed limits and regulations

Everybody knows that it is important to follow speed limits on the road, and it’s even more important in an industrial environment. Because trucks are often driven near pedestrians, going slow is important. Your workplace likely has posted speed limits and other traffic rules that you should follow every moment you are operating a forklift. Coming to a rolling stop or speeding may make the difference in how quickly you can stop in an emergency.

Exercise caution around docks and ramps

Docks and ramps are particularly risky areas in a warehouse environment for a number of reasons. Pedestrians will often be working here, and there may be blind spots that make it difficult for you to see where they are. Colliding with a dock or a ramp is also a risk that you should take into account and be careful to avoid.

If you have been in a workplace accident involving a forklift, you should be aware of your legal options. Reaching out to an attorney may help you better understand potential recourse.