Forklifts are essential to many industries. While they are extremely useful tools in manufacturing, construction and other work environments, they are dangerous machines that must be operated with care. Proper, site-specific training from an experienced driver is necessary for new drivers at every worksite, even if you’ve operated machinery like this before.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 614 individuals died from forklift-related work accidents between 2011 and 2017. More than 7,000 more workers suffered injuries that led to missed work. Non-roadway accidents involving another motor vehicle or powered industrial truck accounted for the most fatalities.

What can you do to mitigate the danger of driving a forklift?

11 safety tips for operating a forklift

·       Check the forklift before use for damage or maintenance needs.

·       Always wear your seat belt.

·       Never leave a forklift unattended while it is in operation.

·       Know and be careful not to exceed the lifting capacity, which could tip the balance of the vehicle.

·       Watch for slippery areas or other obstacles.

·       Be mindful of coworkers moving about the site and stay in the designated driving area.

·       Wear appropriate safety gear for your worksite.

·       Do not operate the vehicle with wet or greasy hands or shoes, which could cause your hands to slip on the wheel or your feet to slip on the brake.

·       Operate the vehicle slowly.

·       Travel with the forks positioned low

·       Use the horn or warning lights when necessary to alert bystanders of your intention to turn or move unexpectedly.

Forklifts can be dangerous. However, with proper training and safety precautions, they can be used safely and effectively to facilitate productivity at a worksite.