Regardless what kind of work you do, forklifts have become essential pieces of heavy machinery that are present on almost all work sites, from grocery stores to construction sites to warehouses.
Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes safety regulations for the safe operation and employee movement in the vicinity of forklifts, preventable injuries continue to occur. Forklifts could be unstable, and their weight could cause debilitating injuries.
Take charge of your safety
Although your employer is responsible for your health and safety, you might be smart to take charge of it where you can. If you are a forklift operator, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your co-workers. The most critical aspect of forklift safety is the need for both operators and pedestrian workers to understand and take note of the risk factors if they share their work areas with forklifts.
Too many forklift accidents involve unqualified operators, and the following training requirements are imperative:
- Make sure you receive adequate training for the forklift you have to operate — different sizes and types pose different hazards.
- Never allow an unqualified worker to operate your forklift.
- Follow all the safety measures and procedures that are in place.
- Follow a maintenance schedule to ensure the machine is in good working order. Take it out of service for repairs of malfunctions.
- Establish an inspection checklist to use every day before using the forklift.
Operator errors are some of the primary causes of forklift accidents, including the following driver issues:
- Along with training, practice and experience are essential before you will be accustomed to operating the machine safely.
- Avoid complacency and becoming reckless — it could lead to severe accidents.
- Remain alert at all times, and look out for common accident causes like vision problems, driving over the edge of a loading dock and control problems.
It is crucial for your training to include safe loading practices. Make sure you understand the basics of load balancing and keep the following in mind:
- Make sure you always supervise the loading of your forklift and inspect it thoroughly to ensure it is safe and balanced — it takes very little for a forklift with an unbalanced load to tip over.
- Avoid overloading by following the manufacturer's guidelines for the particular machine.
For some reason, forklifts bring out the child in many workers, and some cannot resist the temptation to use the dangerous machines for horseplay. Make sure you never participate in games on a forklift and ensure none of your co-workers compromise other employees' safety in this way. Operating a forklift is a significant responsibility not to be taken lightly.
Despite all the precautions you take, you might suffer forklift-related injuries. Will you know where to go for help? You might find comfort in the fact that an attorney who has experience in fighting for the rights of Pennsylvania construction workers can assist with obtaining workers' compensation benefits. Benefits can cover your medical expenses along with a portion of lost wages. If your injury caused permanent disability, a lawyer could assist in obtaining additional benefits.