What are the Most Common Forklift Accidents?

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Forklifts are invaluable for moving heavy loads quickly and efficiently. However, they can also pose serious dangers if operators don’t follow proper safety guidelines. Understanding the leading causes of forklift accidents is key for preventing injuries and damage in your workplace.

At TAG Forklifts, we want to ensure you keep your operators safe and avoid costly accidents. In this comprehensive guide, we explore the primary causes of forklift mishaps and provide actionable tips to foster a culture of safety with lift trucks.

1. Forklift Rollovers and Tip Overs

The most frequent and catastrophic lift truck incident is rollovers, where the forklift tips onto its side or flips upside down due to factors like:

  • Excess speed around corners or inclines
  • Sudden braking or turning
  • Carrying an unbalanced load too high
  • Travelling over uneven surfaces

Rollovers often severely injure or even kill operators who get crushed beneath overturning forklifts.

Preventive Measures

  • Enforce on-site speed limits
  • Ensure loads don’t exceed capacity or lift height ratings
  • Train operators on load balancing and defensive driving
  • Install operator presence sensors to stop forward movement if the driver leaves the seat
  • Use solid pneumatic tyres for stability on uneven terrain

2. Objects Falling from Forks

Another primary source of accidents is dropped loads that crush limbs or cause head trauma. Contributing factors include:

  • Carrying unbalanced loads too high
  • Travelling over bumpy surfaces
  • Abrupt braking or turning
  • Failing to fully insert forks before attempting to lift

Preventive Measures

  • Use appropriate forklift attachments like clamps or hoppers to secure tricky loads
  • Enforce wearing hard hats in operating zones
  • Train on proper load manipulation techniques
  • Install warning lights and alarms to indicate excessive tilt angles

3. Striking Pedestrians or Infrastructure

Collisions between forklifts and people, racks, vehicles or buildings often cause severe injuries. Common causes include:

  • Distracted operators looking away from the direction of travel
  • Excessive speeding in congested areas
  • Poor visibility around blind corners
  • Inadequate walkway demarcation in warehouses

Preventive Measures

  • Mount convex mirrors at blind corners
  • Install proximity sensors with audible alerts
  • Clearly mark pedestrian zones with painted lines or barriers
  • Enforce strict speed limits in warehouses and loading zones

4. Falls from Platforms

Where operators work at height on order pickers or reach trucks, falls represent a major hazard. Factors like:

  • Failing to wear fall arrest systems properly
  • Unstable footing on cluttered or slippery platforms
  • Distractions that cause drivers to misjudge movements
  • Lack of guardrails around platforms

Preventive Measures

  • Daily inspections of fall protection gear
  • Regular platform housekeeping to remove tripping hazards
  • Install guardrails or gates across all platforms and steps
  • Train operators to always maintain three points of contact during ascent/descent

5. Getting Pinched or Struck

Accidents involving operators getting crushed or pinned between forklifts and fixed objects frequently lead to serious injury. Typical causes include:

  • Driving too closely to racks, vehicles or walls
  • Failing to check surroundings while reversing
  • Carrying bulky loads that block visibility
  • Getting caught while dismounting

Preventive Measures

  • Install proximity sensors to halt movement when close to obstructions
  • Use tagged barrier controls before entering pinch zones
  • Enforce rules about not travelling with obstructed sight lines
  • Warn operators against jumping from moving equipment

Leverage TAG Forklifts’ Safety Resources

As your local forklift safety partner, TAG Forklifts offers:

  • Forklift training covering accident prevention
  • Operator assessments to identify competency gaps
  • Advice on improving warehouse layouts and traffic management
  • Guidance on selecting equipment like proximity sensors and convex mirrors
  • Facilitation of tool-box talks on key risks

Investing in a culture of forklift safety saves lives and prevents costly business disruptions from accidents. Contact TAG Forklifts today on 0161 848 0555 for a free consultation on enhancing your lift truck safety programme.