Forklift Related Injuries
Updated: Jan 12, 2021
Fully loaded forklifts operate on principle of balance.
Counterbalance forklifts have large counterbalance at the rear to balance out loads being lifted by the tynes.
Without a counterbalance weight when loads heavier than what the unit is rated to lift are lifted units are at a significant higher risk of overturning and operators falling.
When a unit overturns the operator is at risk of being crushed if they fall out of the cabin, they can be crushed by the load or unit itself.
Reddon states that:
‘Operators being crushed is often due to them trying to jump out of the forklift as it overturns’
In the event a unit overturns, it is advised to stay in the cabin as the structure will provide some protection to operators, hold onto the steering wheel and brace for impact whilst leaning your body away from the impact zone.
A correctly installed and calibrated weight gauge can assist in the prevention of units overturning, operators are provided with an accurate weight of the load they are lifting and can tell if it exceeds the rated lifting capacity of the unit.
forklift injury stay in cabin in the event of an overturn to avoid serious injury
Employees working in close proximity to forklifts can be seriously injured if they are hit by a moving unit.
Accidents of this nature often occur when an operator is driving with poor visibility and isn’t able to clearly see their surrounds.
To lower the risk of this happening, operators should always travel with loads positioned so they have an unobstructed view.
when operating a forklift always have a clear unobstructed view
Visual warnings such as safety lights attached to the forklift show pedestrians that the forklift is moving, providing them opportunity to ensure they are out of the way.
The best way to prevent pedestrian accidents is to have a traffic management plan, with clearly designated separate paths for forklifts and pedestrians to utilise.
Lowering the time pedestrians are using the same paths as forklifts will reduce the potential for them to be hit.
traffice management plans provide clear designated paths to keep forklifts and pedestrians separate during operations
Being Struck By Falling Objects
As previously mentioned an unbalanced forklift can result in the load falling off the tynes, due to either being incorrectly packed or pallet damage.
Depending on the lift height the load falls from, it has the potential to build up significant momentum that can result in serious injury or property damage below.
To prevent this from happening it is imperative that operator’s double check the load has been correctly packed on a suitable undamaged pallet.
This may result in the load needing to be repacked correctly or carefully transferred to a new more suitable pallet.
ensure all loads are securely packed and balanced when lifting to prevent objects falling
Hitting Debris While Driving
Dirty floors with solid debris such as metal or wooden off-cuts pose another significant source of injury to both pedestrians and operators.
Forklifts can operate at significant speeds and if they were to run over or strike some debris that has been left on the floor this can be shot off in any direction potentially injuring unsuspecting operator or pedestrians.
It is imperative that areas where forklifts operate are kept clean and tidy at all times or forklift access is restricted to areas where debris is created to reduce the risk of debris becoming projectiles.
As well as the potential for debris to become projectiles there is high likelihood debris such as metal can puncture forklift tyres and cost companies added spare parts and servicing expenses.
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