Forklift Safety Best Practices

With National Forklift Safety Day right around the corner, MHE and pedestrian safety should be on top every operations mind.

OSHA estimates approximately  70% of all forklift accidents can be prevented with the right training or policy. To facilitate such training, the ITA works with OSHA to develop resources that highlight PIT safety best practices. National Forklift Safety Day is a day to surface the greater safety mission and provides an opportunity to emphasize operator education and training, create greater pedestrian awareness, and share resources about forklift safety.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the three most common types of forklift injuries happen when: A forklift rolls or overturns. Workers are hit, struck, crushed or pinned by a forklift.  A warehouse worker falls from a forklift.

Below are some best practices that can help in your safety journey:

  • Training (The foundation of safety is training and education, and is built upon with retraining. OHSA requires an initial training and certification prior to operation and operator performance evaluation once every 3 years):
    • Take the opportunity to continue training safe and best practices anytime an accident, near miss, or observed unsafe behavior occurs
    • Audit your training curriculum and artifacts: Validating that proper records for training, certifications, daily checklists, and near misses (per OSHA requirements) is important. Perhaps more important is auditing the actual training. We’re all consumed with meetings, or these days virtual meetings, but spending time going through the training your operators go through will undoubtedly surface additional opportunities for improvement.
  • Forklift Stability (42% of forklift fatalities are caused by a lift truck that tips over):
    • Take the opportunity to continue training safe and best practices anytime an accident, near miss, or observed unsafe behavior occurs.
    • Ensure operators are aware and understand the stability triangle
    • Stability can be best maintained by keeping loads low to the ground and traveling with caution when turning, stopping, and starting.
    • Check your systems, check your performance expectations:
      • While operator understanding is extremely important, few operators will calculate their center of gravity while operating the vehicle.
      • Consider the system the operator is operating within.
      • Is your WMS asking the operator to place too heavy of a load up high?
      • Do the current performance expectations encourage or even incentivize unsafe maneuvers?
  • Blind spot awareness (One of the most dangerous situations around PIT occurs when operators are moving around blind spots, in particular through intersections. Blind spots are inherent to the design of many facilities and pieces of equipment, but here’s a few ways to decrease risk):
  • Implement stop and honk policies at all intersections
    • Slow down early when approaching intersections
    • For pedestrian: Approach blindspots and intersections from a distance, then proceed through once you have full visibility to the PIT drive path.
    • Consider RTLS (Real Time Location Sensing) or LiDAR based safety systems
  • Increasing the frequency of “Expected Conditions”:
    • 5S and wayfinding – while not new nor overly exciting topics, can go a long way in keeping pedestrians, inventory, and PIT at appropriate distances
    • Road Rules:Create standards for direction of travel, right of way, and turn communication standards
    • Predictability goes a long way in creating a safe environment for both PIT operators and pedestrians 

Third Wave Automation provides automation solutions and services to warehouse and manufacturing environments. We consider safety as our top priority- leveraging 360 degree vehicle coverage, world class computer vision, and software designed to work around others from day 1.

-Written by Mike Myers, Director of Product Solutions

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