How to Avoid the Worst Forklift Accidents


The chances of having forklift accidents are just as high as having a car accident, but with much higher stakes. A forklift collision can result in anything from expensive damage to loads, delays in goods being dispatched all the way to pedestrians and forklift operators fatal injuries. To minimize the risks learning safety measures must be a priority in any warehouse. Know your basics:

  1. Identify factors contributing to forklift accidents

These can be grouped in several categories. Firstly, mechanical conditions of a forklift including its age, malfunctioning brakes and steers, as well as leaks and emissions from the forklift. Next, load carried can be hazardous if being too heavy, inappropriately assembled and so unstable or in a way that it prevents the operator from being able to see the surroundings properly. Another contributing factor is forklift operator himself if they lack proper training, or are stressed and tired because of long working hours. Speeding, dangerous driving and reversing techniques, poor communication with other members of the team also increase the risk of accidents. Workplace design plays an important role too; narrow or cluttered aisles often require extra level of attention. High levels of traffic and pedestrians in the areas with operating forklifts also greatly contribute to the risks.

  1. How to avoid accidents with pedestrians

It’s best to separate areas where forklifts are in use from walkways and other zones with pedestrian traffic. Staff needs to be aware of operating forklifts and access to areas can be restricted to designated individuals, specific hours, etc. Pedestrians should never come too close to a forklift and when they are in close vicinity they must let the operator know about their presence. Hi visible clothing should be worn and sufficient lighting as well as marking is essential. Make sure load doesn’t restrict driver’s visibility and forklift traffic is restricted to areas with little or no pedestrian traffic. Avoid close vicinity of cloakrooms, canteens and similar spaces.

  1. How to avoid collisions with racking

This can easily happen when the operator focuses solely on the load on the forks and doesn’t pay enough attention to the surroundings, especially when maneuvering between aisles. This can be avoided by choosing the right type of forklift to use in the area. Smaller models can save a lot of trouble. Drivers also need to be alert and have proper training to drive between racking bays without speeding. Consider investing in racking protection as an extra safety measure as well.

Originally published by International Logistics and Manufacturing Magazine