Top 5 Warehouse Forklift Safety Tips

Every year, forklift injuries impact thousands of people. These powerful pieces of equipment can potentially cause significant bodily harm or death if proper care is not exercised while working with and around them. It’s essential to make sure your employees are all properly trained and follow warehouse forklift safety procedures.

If you don’t ensure your employees know how to safely operate a forklift, you could be held liable in the event of a forklift-related injury or death. To protect yourself, maintain proper insurance and make sure your employees follow your forklift safety protocols at all times.

Warehouse Forklift Safety

In a warehouse setting, there are often many different things going on at the same time, which makes it all the more important to operate a forklift carefully. Just a short lapse in attention or judgment could lead to devastating consequences for the forklift operator and those in the immediate vicinity. To keep yourself and your employees safe while performing daily duties involving forklift operation, follow these top five warehouse forklift safety tips.

1. Follow a Strict Training Protocol and All Regulations

Never allow an employee who is not properly trained and certified to operate a forklift. This is not only an important safety precaution but also a federal mandate. In addition, the law states that you should also never allow someone younger than 18 years of age to operate a forklift.

You can find forklift laws and regulations online. Refer to the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration for training requirements and assistance in developing your own training program for warehouse forklift safety.  

2. Drive Safely at All Times

Driving carefully is crucial for safe operation of lift trucks. Most forklifts are capable of going up to 18 mph, but that doesn’t mean you should ever drive that fast in one. In a warehouse setting, it’s wise to set a maximum forklift speed limit of 5mph. This speed should give you sufficient time to slow down or quickly come to a stop if someone steps out in front of you unexpectedly.

You should also plan to slow down when crossing slippery surfaces, driving on docks or approaching congested areas. Here are a few additional warehouse forklift safety tips when operating the vehicle:

  • Only handle loads the forklift can safely handle
  • Never drive defective forklifts until they are properly repaired
  • Wear a seatbelt when operating a forklift
  • Never drive a forklift up to someone who’s standing in front of a fixed object
  • Never attempt to stand up when driving a sit-down rider
  • Don’t drive a forklift while it’s carrying an elevated load
  • Maintain safe clearances when driving a forklift around people and obstacles

These warehouse forklift safety tips will help you avoid harming yourself or someone else while operating a forklift.

3. Use the Right Forklift for the Job

There are many different types and sizes of forklifts. It’s important to select the appropriate forklift for each job you do. For example, if you’re going to retrieve a pallet from a narrow aisle, it’s best to use a narrower forklift that can turn on a dime. For larger aisles, bigger forklifts with wider turning radiuses may work fine.

Keep in mind that most forklift accidents occur when someone is trying to change directions or turn a forklift. For optimal warehouse forklift safety, always slow the forklift way down or come to a complete stop before turning. Turning too quickly could cause the forklift to run into shelving and potentially knock it over. It could also cause the forklift to tip over, which could potentially kill any surrounding workers or the operator.

4. Train Employees on Forklift Hazards

In addition to potentially running into human and non-human obstacles, there are other hazards associated with operating a forklift. Propane-powered forklifts can create carbon monoxide and other noxious gases during operation. That’s why proper ventilation is an essential part of warehouse forklift safety.

To keep noxious gases below acceptable limits, use a ventilation system in your warehouse. You may also open windows and doors to allow plenty of fresh air into the warehouse that will dilute any gases produced by your forklift.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Unconsciousness

Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to heart damage, brain damage or death. If you or your employees notice any of these symptoms in your warehouse, turn off the forklift, get everyone out of the building immediately and call emergency services (911 or your local fire department). As part of your warehouse forklift safety protocols, do not go back into the building until it has been cleared by emergency responders.

5. Maintain Your Forklifts

Regular maintenance is essential for ensuring your forklift works properly for as long as possible. It’s also important for making sure your forklift is safe to operate. Here are a few steps you should take when maintaining your forklift for both longevity and safety purposes:

  • Wash your forklift regularly to prevent debris and dirt from clogging up the electrical components and causing damage to the mast.
  • Have your forklift serviced regularly — most businesses should do this every six weeks (or 250 hours) or every year (or 2,000 hours).
  • Check the tire pressure before each use to ensure the tires are all equally inflated. An off-balance forklift is more likely to tip over during operation.
  • Clean the mirrors regularly to make sure operators can always see what’s around them when they’re driving the forklift.
  • Regularly inspect seat belts for damage or fraying and make sure the seat belt mounting structure is tight.

You should also visually inspect the exterior of the forklift before each use to make sure there is no obvious damage to the machine.

Find the Right Forklift for Warehouse Forklift Safety

For warehouse forklift safety purposes, make sure you select a forklift that’s appropriate for your needs. Once you know the specific type of new or used forklift you want to buy, contact Forklift Inventory. We’ll be happy to give you an instant quote on a variety of forklifts for sale.

Compare Forklifts For Sale Near You