Forklift Accidents – How to Avoid Them

Forklifts are vehicles used for moving and lifting pallets, often in workplaces like warehouses and construction sites. Although they are small for an industrial vehicle, they are extremely heavy, and can carry huge loads across short distances and lift pallets to a great height for storage.

Because of the speed that they can travel and the nature of the objects they are used to transport, both the driver of and those working around forklifts can be at risk of serious injury if the correct precautions are not taken. Injuries caused by forklift accidents can even prove fatal.

To reduce the risk of a forklift accident in the workplace, the following precautions must be taken.

Forklift operator training

By law in the UK, any person who is operating a forklift must be fully trained. Often, employers will request to see a license or certificate as proof of training and experience.

Having adequate training in operating forklift trucks mean that the driver will be aware of the dangers of working in and around the vehicle and will take all necessary steps to reduce the risk of accidents.

It is important to educate all members of staff on safety precautions in the workplace, so informing all employees, and not just forklift operators, on the safety procedures around working near a forklift, can significantly help in lowering the risk of injury.

Give adequate space

As a pedestrian working on the ground in the vicinity of a forklift, it is your responsibility to give the forklift a wide berth, and not to walk directly around or behind it. Always make sure that the forklift operator is aware that you are working near them, so that they can also be sure to give you plenty of space.

Having designated areas for pedestrians in the warehouse or factory will also help to reduce the likelihood of a collision.

Load weight

It is important not to overload the forklift with a weight that it is too heavy to manage. Lifting above the weight capacity can cause the forklift to tip over, potentially injuring both the driver and anyone else working in the area.

It doesn’t matter if a job can be finished more quickly by transporting heavier loads; the safety of all employees in the workplace is more important than the speed of the job at hand.

Load distribution

As the forklift operator, you must ensure that the weight of the load you are carrying is distributed evenly. An unbalanced load can cause the forklift to topple over, putting the driver and those working around the machine in danger.

If you are operating a forklift and notice that the load you are lifting is not balanced, do not exit the vehicle to manually balance the load. While still inside the vehicle, place the pallet back on the ground, reverse away from the load and switch off your forklift ignition. Only then should you exit the vehicle and rearrange the load.

Inspect the work area

When operating a forklift, it is important to analyse the area you will be working in to identify and, where possible, remove any objects which could cause the vehicle to tip over if they had to be avoided. Operating a forklift in clear pathways is always safer than having to navigate obstacles.

Inspect the vehicle

Before the start of the shift, the forklift operator should inspect the vehicle to make sure that it is up to standard for use. This includes checking things like tyre pressure, making sure the fork mechanism is functioning correctly and checking for any fuel or oil leaks.

If the operator notices anything wrong with the machine, a specialist forklift mechanic should be contacted to fix any problems before the machine is used again.

I have been injured in a forklift accident. What next?

Injuries sustained from being involved in forklift accidents can be extremely serious. You may be forced to take time off from work to recover, which can result in a loss of earnings for your household. Depending on the severity of your injuries, your way of life may change drastically, and you could find yourself in need of constant care and rehabilitation.

If you have suffered from being involved in an accident with a forklift, and it wasn’t your fault, it is your right to seek compensation from the at-fault party. Your employer has a duty of care to their employees, and if your employer or your colleagues have been negligent, you may be suffering greatly as a result.

At Watermans, we take care of the legal side of things. This allows you one less thing to worry about, so you can concentrate on your recovery. By offering straightforward legal advice, you know where you stand throughout each step of the claims process, and you can start to get your life back on track.

Our Personal Injury team are experts in handling forklift truck accident claims and can provide you with the information you need with regards to your next step. Call our team today on 0131 555 7055 or use the contact form below for more information.

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