Safety Tips Construction Warehouse safety

Stay alert on and around forklifts


A quick online search will uncover a large number of fatal workplace incident reports involving forklifts. From workers being crushed by these vehicles to others being run over or backed over, incidents involving forklifts can cause injuries and deaths in many ways. According to the 2015 edition of the National Safety Council chartbook, “Injury Facts,” 67 workers died in 2012 due to injuries sustained from a forklift. The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety states that many factors can contribute to forklift incidents, including:

  • Improper training for forklift operators, or no training at all
  • Traveling too fast
  • Driving with the forklift’s load elevated
  • Allowing workers to ride on the forklift
  • Improper warning systems
  • Horseplay
  • Not keeping the forklift in good working order

To help prevent forklift-related injuries and deaths, CCOHS provides a comprehensive list of tips for operators to follow, including:

  • Never exceed the recommended load limit.
  • Always perform a visual and operational check before use.
  • Know the vehicle’s blind spots.
  • Stay alert for any obstructions in your path when operating a forklift.
  • Keep pedestrians and workers away.
  • Use back-up alarms, warning lights and mirrors.
  • If someone crosses your path, stop, lower the load and wait until the person is gone before driving.
  • Never block a fire exit or stairway with the forklift or load.
  • Inform your supervisor immediately if you encounter any problems with the vehicle.
  • Stay in the forklift in the event it overturns – do no attempt to jump off.

When operating a forklift, do not:

  • Drive with the load raised more than 4 inches off the ground.
  • Leave it running unattended for any period of time.
  • Let unauthorized employees ride or drive it. (OSHA notes that it is against federal law to let any person younger than 18 operate a forklift or let anyone older than 18 operate one who is not properly trained and certified.)
  • Allow anyone to walk underneath the elevated load.

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