Given the regularity of forklift injuries and fatalities recorded every year across the industry, forklift safety awareness plays a significant role in reducing accidents

According to the Global Industrial Truck Association, 90 percent of all forklifts are involved in some type of accident during their working lives, so forklift safety is considered a principal consideration for anyone who is involved in their use.

According to Darryl Shafto, MD of Goscor Lift Truck Company (GLTC), forklifts must comply with stringent health and safety regulations – which include an annual load test – to be declared safe to use.

“Chief among the factors that contribute to safety incidents is poor equipment maintenance,” he says. “Mechanical maladies – such as the malfunction of brakes, steering, clutch, shift linkage or transmission, as well as leaks in hydraulic systems – increase the risk of forklift incidents.”

To ensure that forklifts are in safe working order, Shafto says equipment audits are particularly significant. “Regular lift-truck audits are imperative. This is more important from a health and safety perspective than from a performance standpoint.”

He says that to help to ensure a safe working environment, audits should address all working parts, with particular attention paid to lifting mechanisms. “Several parties should be involved in the process. Operators should audit forklifts daily and specialists from lift-truck companies should also do so on a regular basis. Technicians should also audit and check the equipment at service intervals.”

In Shafto’s view, safety training is one of the best investments any warehouse manager can make. “Generally, many forklift incidents are as a result of driver negligence, fatigue and lack of training. I cannot stress enough how crucial the day-to-day training and upgrading of driver awareness is to every operation,” he says, pointing out that a recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration study found that forklift operators improved their performance by 61 percent after safety training.

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