June 10, 2024

What are Some Safety Tips for Forklifts in Warehouses?

By Flux Power

National Forklift Safety Day is coming up, which means it's the perfect time to focus on enhancing the safety measures in your warehouse operations. Forklifts are indispensable in many industries, but they can also pose significant hazards if not operated correctly.

Here are 10 safety tips that can help ensure a safe working environment for everyone involved.

  1. Pay Attention to Forklift Stability

Forklift stability is paramount to prevent tipping accidents. Operators should always consider the balance and center of gravity of the load. It's essential to keep the heaviest part of the load as close to the front wheels as possible and ensure the load is evenly distributed. Using the right type of forklift for the job and understanding the stability triangle (a concept that explains the center of gravity and stability of the forklift) can prevent many accidents.


  1. Forklift Operator Certification

Only trained and certified operators should be allowed to operate forklifts. Certification ensures that operators understand the machinery's mechanics, safety procedures, and the best practices for handling loads. Regular training and re-certification help in keeping the operators updated with the latest safety protocols and operational techniques.


  1. Pedestrians Have the Right of Way

Always prioritize the safety of pedestrians in the warehouse. Operators should be vigilant and always yield to pedestrians. Designated pedestrian walkways should be clearly marked, and operators should use the horn to alert pedestrians when necessary. Mirrors can also be installed at intersections to help both forklift operators and pedestrians see oncoming traffic.


  1. Be Aware of the Lift Capacity

Understanding and adhering to the forklift's load capacity is crucial. Overloading a forklift can cause tipping and serious accidents. Each forklift has a load capacity chart, usually found in the operator's manual or on the forklift itself. Always check the weight of the load and compare it to the forklift’s rated capacity before lifting.

Forklift operators should be well-versed in reading and interpreting the load capacity chart for their specific forklift model. These charts are typically affixed to the forklift and provide crucial information on the safe lifting capacities at various heights and load center distances.

Operators should:

  • Check the Load Weight: Before lifting, always verify the weight of the load. If the weight is not labeled, use a scale to ensure it does not exceed the forklift's rated capacity.
  • Understand the Load Configuration: Different load configurations can affect the forklift’s capacity. For example, a wide load may reduce the effective capacity, even if the weight is within limits.
  • Adjust for Attachments: If the forklift is equipped with attachments (like clamps or rotators), these can alter the load capacity. The capacity chart usually includes adjustments for common attachments.

  1. Know Your Blind Spots

Forklift operators have several blind spots due to the design and structure of the forklift. It's important to be aware of these blind spots and take extra precautions when maneuvering in tight spaces or reversing. Using additional mirrors or backup cameras can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.


  1. Forklifts are Not Race Cars

Speeding is a common cause of forklift accidents. Operators should always drive at a safe speed and follow the warehouse's speed limits. Quick turns, sudden stops, and high speeds can lead to loss of control and tipping. Remember, forklifts are for transporting goods safely, not for racing.


  1. Don’t Travel with an Elevated Load

Traveling with an elevated load is dangerous as it raises the forklift's center of gravity and increases the risk of tipping. Loads should always be kept low to the ground while the forklift is in motion. When a forklift travels with an elevated load, the center of gravity of the forklift shifts upward. This elevated center of gravity significantly reduces the stability of the forklift, making it more prone to tipping over, especially when turning or navigating uneven surfaces. Even small bumps or depressions in the floor can cause a forklift with an elevated load to become unstable. Elevate the load only when the forklift is stationary and ready to load or unload.


  1. Implement Forklift Marking System

A forklift marking system helps in organizing the warehouse and improving safety. This can include color-coded zones for specific types of goods, designated paths for forklifts, and clearly marked no-go areas. Such systems reduce the risk of collisions and ensure that everyone in the warehouse is aware of where forklifts are operating.


  1. Get the Best Technology

Investing in modern technology can enhance forklift safety. Using lithium-ion battery technology and telematics systems are excellent examples of how technology can improve forklift safety. Lithium-ion batteries offer several advantages over traditional lead acid batteries, including longer life, faster charging, and more consistent power delivery. This reliability ensures that forklifts operate smoothly and reduces the likelihood of mechanical failures.

A good battery and forklift telematics system further enhances safety by providing real-time data on forklift operations. This system monitors various parameters such as battery health, usage patterns, and operator behavior. Managers can use this data to identify potential issues before they become serious problems, schedule timely maintenance, and ensure that operators are following safety protocols. By leveraging advanced battery technology and telematics, this helps create a safer and more efficient working environment.


  1. Use a Forklift Safety Checklist

Before starting any operation, operators should perform a safety checklist. This includes checking tire pressure, brakes, steering, warning devices, and hydraulic systems. Regular maintenance checks and ensuring that the forklift is in good working condition can prevent many mechanical failures that lead to accidents.

Here is a FREE daily forklift operator checklist so you can make your operations even safer and more efficient.


Forklift Safety Is Top Priority

National Forklift Safety Day is a reminder of the importance of adhering to safety protocols to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace.

By following these tips and maintaining a safety-first mindset, we can create a safer environment for everyone working with or around forklifts. The focus on safety should be continuous, with regular training sessions, updated safety protocols, and the adoption of new technologies that enhance safety.

Adopting these practices helps in preventing accidents, reducing downtime, and ultimately creating a more productive and secure workplace. Every safety measure taken is a step towards protecting the lives and well-being of forklift operators and other warehouse staff.


Forklift Operator Checklist

Flux Power

Flux Power

Powering Your Transition to Sustainable Lithium-ion Battery Technology