According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, nearly 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 are seriously injured in forklift-related incidents annually. Statistically, that means one of every ten forklifts in the US will be involved in an accident every year.
An OSHA study found 25% of forklift accidents are due to inadequate operator training, but what about the other 75%? In today’s article we’ll review the most common forklift accidents and how to prevent them through: proper training, safety equipment and proactive technology.
Safety Solutions for Common Forklift Accidents
#1 Hitting or running over a pedestrian
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), nearly 20 percent of forklift accidents involve a pedestrian, and 36% of deaths forklift-related deaths are pedestrians. Proper training for operators and pedestrians, clear signage, floor tape and other safety solutions could dramatically lower this number.
- Post warning signs and apply floor tape to designate forklift zones.
- Use blue lights and pedestrian red zone lights to alert pedestrians to the presence of a forklift.
Even if pedestrians become “blind” to signs and tape, an approaching blue spotlight is hard to ignore. Similarly, a red light zone around the lift truck reminds pedestrians to keep a safe distance from heavy machinery and also prevents foot injuries and collisions from rear end swing. Similarly, a forklift back-up alarm audibly alerts pedestrians that equipment may be coming their way.
#2 Knocking Off a Pallet, Tipping or Damaging Racking
At higher levels, picking up and setting down a pallet can be tricky. The harder it is for the operator to see, the greater the odds a pallet will get knocked off, tip or forks will damage product or racking.
Toyota's automatic fork leveler (a standard feature on Toyota forklifts) resets empty forks to a level position simply by pressing a button. Operators can easily navigate in and out of a pallet, especially up high, which is gives the operator confidence and increases productivity.
A mast-mounted camera with operator compartment monitor help the forklift operator spot the load when moving forks in and out of a pallet. Getting a visual on the load makes things much easier and safer for the operator, product and equipment. The Safe-View Wireless Camera System is reasonably priced and has great picture quality. It’s easy to install, can be mounted anywhere on the forklift and accommodates up to four cameras.
#3 Forklift Overturns: tipovers and rollovers
Forklift overturns are the leading cause of fatalities involving lift trucks. Overturns can be caused by:
- Improper turning
- Driving with an elevated load
- Excessive speed
Toyota’s patented SAS (System of Active Stability) with AMC (Active Mast Control) is proven to reduce accidents from improper turning and tipovers.
SAS takes more than 3,000 readings per second to detect unsafe operating conditions. When sensors are alerted to forklift instability, SAS instantly engages the Swing Lock Cylinder to stabilize the rear axle, providing the stability needed to help reduce the risk of lateral tipovers.
Tilting the mast excessively when lifting a heavy load at a height, causes the rear wheels to lift off and the load to spill forward. Toyota’s Active Mast Front Tilt Angle Control helps reduce the risk of spilling of loads or tipping over forward by controlling the tilt angle.
Active Mast Control automatically detects load weight and mast height. If it senses potential longitudinal instability, it overrides the operator’s manual control and limits forward tilt. This decreases the chance of spilling a load or tipping the lift truck forward.
Excessive speed is another common cause of accidents - especially rollovers. Traveling too fast shortens the driver’s reaction time and increases the chance for an accident when turning. Though OSHA has not set a specific speed limit for lift trucks, 5mph is generally regarded as a safe maximum speed.
Unfortunately, forklifts don’t come with a speedometer. Utilizing a forklift speed radar system, which can sense speeds as slow as 3mph, can be an effective way to discourage speeding.
Lastly, as mentioned above, it’s important to ensure all forklift operators’ certifications are up to date. TMHNCoffers forklift operator training at our facilities and can conduct them on demand at your facility. A recent study by OSHA found training improved operator performance scores by 61 percent.
Before your next forklift purchase, consider the brand with industry-leading safety features and a reputation for both safety and low cost of ownership. A June 2016 study of all major forklift brands found Toyota ranked #1 for:
- Safest forklift brand
- Fewest safety-related incidents
- Overall quality
- Overall value
- Lowest cost of ownership
If you have questions about whether Toyota material handling equipment will be a good fit for your business, please contact us online with any questions, or by phone:
East Bay - Livermore (510) 675-0500
Fresno (559) 834-9500
Sacramento (916) 376-0500
Salinas (831) 757-1091
Here are some other articles you might find useful and interesting:
- Most common warehouse accidents and how to prevent them
- Conducting a warehouse safety audit
- Pedestrian safety around forklifts