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Your Looming Forklift Safety Issue, and How to Fix It

Posted by EHS Insight Staff on August 15, 2016 at 12:13 PM

Employees standing under raised forks. Leaking fluids accumulating overnight underneath a forklift. Untrained drivers operating a forklift in a crowded warehouse. To avoid these manufacturing nightmares and more like them, it's important to implement facility safety practices in your plant, but only in the right way. 

Each year, forklift accidents cause 85 deaths and almost 35,000 serious injuries. And in the case where someone dies, it's almost always the driver. The sad part is, many forklift accidents could be avoided simply by instilling the right kind of forklift safety practices in your facility. 

Here's Your Way Out of That Bad News

Those are some unfortunate stats, but the good news is your facility doesn't have to become part of that grim story. One way to keep your facility on the safe side of things is to implement a safety program based on tried and true practices, and guided by experts.

The important thing to remember here is that forklift safety isn't always about training the driver. Here's why.

Forklift Safety is Part of Overall Facility Safety

Forklift drivers are ultimately responsible for what happens around them, but a good facility manager knows everyone plays a part in overall safety, even the facility manager. When the expert team of consultants for the National Safety Council travels the country conducting safety audits, forklift issues are some of the most common problems they encounter.

And it's not always the driver who's totally at fault. It can be the general work environment, according to one of the experts.

"What dictates their activity is production. They’re all under pressure, and when you’re under pressure, they start taking shortcuts.”

-Namir George, National Safety Council Consultant

In fact, Mr. George states that in his experience, that sort of pressured environment is the number one cause of forklift-related hazards in the workplace.

Another major hazard of forklifts is carbon monoxide poisoning. In Washington state, for example, fuel-powered forklifts account for 29% of all carbon monoxide incidents reported to that state's worker's compensation board. That's more than autos, trucks and buses combined!

Clearly, your plant's forklift safety is an extension of overall facility safety, as well as driver preparedness and caution. To keep your company from contributing to accident statistics, make sure everyone gets involved in keeping your plant a safe place to be, especially where forklifts are in use.

Topics: Workplace Health and Safety, Safety Tips, Performance Improvement

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