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6 Simple Ways to Make Your Forklifts Safer

by Mark Gates on June 27, 2019
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Forklift Safety Accessories and Training Northern California
Forklifts cause 10 percent of workplace injuries in factories and warehouses, but many accidents (and lawsuits) can be prevented with the right forklift safety accessories. Combining safety equipment with pedestrian and operator safety training, clearly demonstrates your business takes a proactive approach to safety.

Forklift Accessories that Improve Forklift Safety

#1 Forklift Back-up Alarm
Sadly, dozens of workers are injured or killed each year when a vehicle backs over them. A back-up alarm can help prevent these type of accidents. 

What OSHA says: Equip every truck with an operator-controlled horn, whistle, gong, or other sound-producing device. ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2011.

Though OSHA doesn't specifically require back-up alarms in general industry standards (29 CFR Part 1910), they are required: when vision to the rear of the operator is obstructed and the operator lacks an observer to signal him. It would be the employer's obligation to determine the noise level in his particular worksite and select an appropriate alarm if he chooses to use it. 

At TMH, we teach forklift operators to honk and look behind them when backing up (in other words, don’t just rely on mirrors). In a warehouse environment where there are many trucks moving around at the same time, pedestrians may tune out mechanical noises, so we also teach operators to make eye contact with pedestrians and give them the right of way. 

#2 Forklift Approach Warning Light
More than one in three forklift-related deaths involve a pedestrian, so even though OSHA doesn't require blue spotlights and red zone pedestrian safety lights, they’re a worthwhile investment. A worker looking down at their phone might wander off the safe path and into a work zone, but a bright blue, moving light will quickly catch their attention. A red light projected in the no-go zone surrounding the forklift is similarly effective.  Learn more about the benefits of forklift safety lights.

What OSHA says: Where appropriate to the worksite, equip trucks with ... visual devices (such as lights or blinkers) ANSI/ITSDF B56.1-2011. 

#3 Forklift Speed Radar System
The Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) recommends a max speed of 8 mph in general and a 3 mph max speed in areas where pedestrians are present.

While some forklifts have speedometers, there is no set “speed limit”; however, a forklift speed radar system can be an effective way to discourage speeding. They're similar to the “Your Speed” detectors you may have seen while driving your car near school zones.

What OSHA says: OSHA does not have specific speed limits set for the safe operation of a powered industrial truck. However, in determining what is a safe speed, OSHA would take a variety of factors into consideration. These factors include, but are not limited to, the type of truck itself, the manufacturer's limitations on the truck, the load being carried, adequate stopping distances, operating surface conditions, pedestrian traffic, and other safety issues. 

#4 Anti-Static Ground Strap
Static electricity can damage your forklift’s circuit boards and other electronics and create an unpleasant surprise for the forklift operator. A static electricity dissipation device, such as an anti-static ground strap, transfers static electricity into the ground. A ground strap is especially important for forklifts with non-marking tires, which have no anti-static properties.

#5 Lockout/Tagout Kit
OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.333  requires lockout and tagout for all industrial equipment that uses electricity to protect operators and other workers from unexpected bursts of energy or startup. A forklift lockout / tagout kit is a simple, OSHA-compliant solution. 

What OSHA says: "Lockout/tagout" refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. Read more about creating OSHA-compliant lockout/tagout procedures

 #6 Forklift Safety Training for Operators and Pedestrians
 OSHA requires  “an evaluation of each Powered Industrial Truck operators performance shall be conducted at least once every 3 years.” OSHA requires operators receive refresher training sooner if:

  • The operator has been observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner
  • The operator has been involved in an accident or near miss incident
  • The operator has been assigned to operate a different type of truck
  • A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect safe operation of the truck

Pedestrian safety training educates non-forklift operators about the hazards of working in or around forklifts. For example:

  • Forklifts steer from the rear so watch for tail swing
  • Why you should never ride on a forklift
  • The dangers of walking under an elevated load
  • Why you should stay 3 feet away from an operator-occupied forklift.

When You Buy a Toyota Forklift, Safety Comes Standard

Toyota forklifts consistently rank #1 for safety in an independent study conducted by Peerless Research Group. Toyota forklifts meet and exceed both American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and OSHA requirements. Toyota forklifts are equipped with exclusive safety technology unmatched by other manufacturers, including System of Active Stability, Active Mast Control, Automatic Fork Leveler.

Also, most Toyota forklifts come standard with the following safety features:
- Operator restraint system (seat belt)
- Manually operated horns, rear horn with ergonomic grip assist
- Skid-resistant entry/exit steps
- Operator assist grips
- Ergonomic placement of hydraulic controls
- Welded overhead guard with 45° angle crossbeam to improve visibility

Investing in safety equipment and training for your material handling team is a proven way to reduce accidents, insurance increases and lawsuits. Contact us for more information on the products or programs above, or to schedule on-site forklift safety training in the Central Valley, East Bay, Fresno, Sacramento, Santa Cruz and Salinas. Our friendly safety experts are happy to answer any questions you may have.

East Bay - Livermore (510) 675-0500
Fresno (559) 834-9500
Sacramento (916) 376-0500
Salinas (831) 757-1091

Further Reading
Common Forklift Operator Injuries and How to Prevent Them
When to Retire or Replace Your Forklift 
4 Major Benefits of Forklift Safety Training 

Forklift Certification in California

Topics: Forklift Safety, Training, Warehouse Safety

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