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Tips to avoid a forklift accident

According the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) one in 10 forklifts are in an accident every year. You have probably seen videos on social media of operators driving into hazards, overloading their machines and tipping or various other accidents. Sometimes forklift accidents happen because the forklift itself malfunctions, sometimes they are due to operator error and in some cases, they are due to unavoidable forces.

When operating a forklift, it is important to follow safety guidelines to limit your risk of injury. For example, you should make sure that the area you are working in is well lit, you are not overly tired and that the floor is free of debris. For some other tips to help you avoid a forklift accident, read below.

Don't get distracted

Just like when driving a car, you should not operate a forklift and use your cellphone. Before even checking the caller ID or text message, stop the forklift and exit the cab. When operating a forklift or any other piece of machinery on a construction site, it is vital to stay completely focused on the task at hand.

Take your time

Drive slowly and do not take turns too quickly. If you move too fast through a turn, you can easily cause the forklift to tip over, especially if you are carrying a load. Take your time to ensure not only your own safety, but that of your coworkers.

Keep it clean

Check the area you will be driving through. Clean up any spills and remove any debris that might be in your potential path or the surrounding area. Also, alert your supervisor to the potential hazards.

Don't overload the machine

Manufacturers design forklifts to carry maximum weights. Be sure you do not overload the forklift. In addition, do not stack the load so high that you cannot see where you are going when the lift is in the down position. By driving with the load raised, the forklift can become top-heavy and tip over.

Buckle up

Since it is impossible to plan for all eventualities, always wear your seat belt when you are operating a forklift. You may have to make a sudden and unexpected maneuver to avoid a dangerous situation and not wearing your seat belt could cause you to fall out of the cab.

While the above tips can help you stay safe and avoid a forklift accident, you may not be able to avoid every danger. If you have suffered an injury on a construction site, you might qualify for workers' compensation benefits.

Source:, "How to Avoid Forklift Accidents," accessed Oct. 24, 2017

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