Forklift Safety: Three Steps to a Safer Work Environment
Happy National Forklift Safety Day! This year marks the fifth anniversary of an event that has become a voice for forklift safety across the nation. Hosted annually in Washington, D.C., by the Industrial Truck Association (ITA), the day highlights the importance of operator training and the appropriate uses of forklifts and other material handling equipment.
Forklift manufacturers and the ITA been counting down to this day, excited to share its important message. And while Toyota Forklifts is sure to spend June 12 celebrating safe forklift use, we understand that forklift safety is a practice that calls for year-round commitment from all of us, operators and pedestrians alike.
The best way to ensure a safe work environment where forklifts are in use is to have a plan for both your operators and your facility. Here are three ways you can maintain safe forklift use in your facility year-round.
1. Ensure all operators are properly trained and qualified to operate forklift equipment.
It's required by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulation 29 CFR 1910.178(1) that forklift operators be trained before they can legally operate a forklift. Why is training so important? According to the National Safety Council, 70 percent of all industrial accidents are caused by an operator error. And according to OSHA, proper training may reduce accident rates by 25–30 percent.
Even after forklift operators are trained and ready to work, the employer must re-evaluate each operator every three years to make sure his or her skills are up to par. It is also the responsibility of employers to make sure that each operator has the proper training on every kind of equipment that operator uses. (For example, being trained to operate a sit-down counterbalanced forklift does not mean you're trained to operate an order picker.) Only trained operators who have read and understood the operator's manual should operate forklifts. Toyota Forklift dealers across North America can provide operator training.
2. If you are a forklift operator, know your forklift and facility.
Forklift operators should know the ins and outs of every forklift they operate as well as when and where the forklift can and will be used. They should conduct daily pre-operation inspections and be familiar with a forklift's warning signs for malfunction.
Operators should also be familiar with the facility they're working in and should be evaluated in the actual environment where they will be using the forklift as part of their operator safety training.
3. If you are a pedestrian, be aware of your duties within a facility.
Pedestrians in areas where forklifts are operating share responsibility for maintaining a safe environment. Know the designated walkways. Wear safety goggles and/or closed-toe shoes when required. Understand that a forklift operator may not be able to see you.
Establishing a culture of awareness and communication within your facility will go a long way in ensuring an all-around safer operation. Have a question about maintaining safe forklift use in your facility? Your local Toyota Forklift dealer will be happy to assist you in getting the information or training you need.
Contributed by Toyota Material Handling U.S.A. Inc., www.toyotaforklift.com/forklift-safety