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June 2, 2019 | Rob Hirschberg

Today Is National Forklift Safety Day – Here’s What to Know!

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National Forklift Safety Day (June 11th) is a day to honor those who have suffered serious injuries or died in forklift accidents by spreading safety awareness. Today is all about increasing forklift safety in workplaces around America. In honor of today, we at Alpine Power Systems put together a blog with some important forklift safety facts and information. Forklift safety should be a priority for everyone.

Frightening Forklift Facts

Did you know there are over 850,000 forklifts in operation in America? Over one in ten of these forklifts (about 95,000 forklifts) will get into an accident, based on annual reporting. Forklifts cause an average of 34,000 serious injuries and 85 deaths each year. The majority of these accidents and injuries (70%) are preventable with proper safety training. Every year, people suffer painful injuries and die in avoidable forklift accidents. Getting the facts on these machines could help prevent the following incidents in the future:

  • Vehicle tipping or rolling over

  • Crush injuries between the forklift and a surface

  • Crushed between two vehicles

  • Vehicle run-over accident

  • Struck by falling material

  • Falls from platforms onto forks

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports a total of 96,785 forklift accidents each year. That breaks down to 61,800 non-serious accidents, 34,900 accidents that cause personal injuries, and 85 that are fatal. Some common injuries that arise from forklift accidents include broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, crush injuries, and injuries from falls out of forklifts. Vehicle overturns, collisions, and dropped loads are common reasons for forklift injuries.

How to Improve Forklift Safety

Now that you’ve seen what can happen due to negligent operation, do your part to prevent forklift accidents with a few safety tips and best practices. Forklift operators usually have the power to prevent accidents by knowing load limits, obeying safe operating practices, and paying attention to what they are doing. You may be able to prevent a future forklift accident by following these safety tips:

  • Inspect the forklift daily. Daily checks should make sure the operator has clear views out of the windshield, that the horn works, that there are no hydraulic leaks, and that all fuel connections are tight and battery terminals are covered. If you notice signs of an issue, put the forklift out of commission until it can receive repairs.

  • Only use qualified operators. No one under the age of 18 should ever operate a forklift. This would violate federal laws. Only someone 18 or older with proper training and forklift operation certification should operate the vehicle.

  • Never smoke near a forklift battery or charging station. Forklift batteries are flammable, as are their charging stations. Smoking or having open flames near a battery or charger could lead to fires and explosions. Learn other battery safety tips!

  • Practice battery-changing safety. Only trained personnel should engage in changing a forklift’s battery. Otherwise, the individual could suffer a back injury, a broken foot, chemical burns, or other injuries.

  • Pay attention to one’s surroundings. Environmental hazards often cause forklift accidents. Make sure the floor is not wet or greasy. Pay attention to surface conditions. Analyze load composition and make sure your load will have stability. Look out for any pedestrian traffic in your path.

Finally, as a great general rule of thumb: go slow. Slowing down and taking one’s time behind the wheel of a forklift could prevent most accidents. Do not rush the job or cut corners to save time. Instead, drive slowly, operate your vehicle carefully, keep your load as low as possible, and drive only in approved areas. This National Forklift Safety Day, we hope you learn how to prevent accidents and injuries with proper forklift safety.

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