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Forklifts: Necessary but dangerous vehicles in the workplace

On Behalf of | May 7, 2021 | Workers' Compensation |

Forklifts are a necessary tool and powered industrial vehicle that are found in many different workplaces. They are helpful when trying to complete tasks, but they have the potential to cause serious injury or death.

Employees may be injured by forklifts by:

  • Bring struck by the forklift
  • Driving off a loading dock
  • Being hit by items that fall from the lift

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is responsible for investigating any deaths related to forklifts. This organization has found that there are some things that can be done to reduce the risk of working with these tools, such as:

  • Offering better, comprehensive worker training
  • Using traffic management techniques in the workplace
  • Enforcing safe work practices
  • Working only with well-maintained, safe forklifts

Do workers have to be trained to use forklifts?

Yes. While some people might think it’s easy enough to train someone in-house, the reality is that there are specialty courses to train individuals to use these vehicles safety. OSHA has both online and in-person forklift courses. A forklift training course usually takes only four to six hours to complete, but it gives the driver a better understanding of the machinery and the damage that they could cause if they hit someone or don’t follow the safety requirements of using this vehicle in the workplace.

What can you do to improve forklift safety in your workplace?

If you want to improve forklift safety in the workplace, remember that anyone who uses the forklift needs to have training. Don’t let someone without training drive it, even if they aren’t using the lift itself. It is also against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to drive or operate a forklift. It is also illegal to allow anyone who is not properly trained to operate the machinery. Training must include practical, formal instruction, practical exercises and an evaluation.

Before using a forklift, go through the daily checklist for powered industrial trucks, which is offered through the OSHA, too. Check for damage that may change the way the vehicle works.

Safety is key to preventing forklift accidents. If you or someone else are hurt in an accident, report it right away and get medical help. You may be able to seek workers’ compensation to help cover your injuries after you seek care.