Why have a Safety Policy for Forklift Trucks?

Forklift truck is the most important material handling equipment in the industry. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (2012) reports that there are 855,900 Forklifts in US alone. The Forklift trucks have a history of accidents in almost every industry. OSHA‘s report suggests that about 85 fatal accidents occur every year in US. The number of serious injuries and non-serious injuries in US per year is 34,900 and 61,800 respectively.

Classification of Forklift accidents in the working places

Accidents related to Forklifts can be classified in five broad areas:

  • Operational aspects,
  • Operating conditions in the plant,
  • System design of the plant
  • Systems arrangement in the plant,
  • Managerial aspects.

Operational aspects resulting in accidents 

There are number of reasons of accidents of Forklifts which are related to the worker’s behavior and incorrect work methods/practices. Excessive speed of operations is one the major contributor to the accidents. Operators are not able to control the speed of the Forklift in case someone comes in the way and hit the workers working or moving in the working area. They also take risks and practice unsafe methods such as riding the Forklift with the load elevated; riding on the forks, not following the correct backing up techniques, improper operations in turning, breaking and accelerating. Operators ignore the warning notifications and signals. Poor communication is another cause of accident of Forklifts.

Operating conditions in the plant

Poor condition of Forklifts such as defective brakes, steering or transmission and leaks in the hydraulic systems are often the cause of accidents of Forklifts. Sometimes the pallets used are damaged or the operator may handle excessively heavy loads than the capacity of the Forklift. Unstable loads also destabilize the Forklifts and may lead to accident

System design of the plant

Poor system design of the plant is dangerous for the safety of the Forklift. Tall or narrow aisles, common area for working and walking, high grade ramps and multiple surfaces are other problems in the safety of operations of the Forklifts. High noise and poor lighting also lead to the accidents of Forklifts.

Systems arrangement in the plant

Improper systems arrangements such as crowed aisles, obstructions in the movement of Forklifts at intersections and doors, excessive traffic in work place create problem in free and smooth operation of Forklifts.

Managerial aspects

Management can make a big difference in safe working of the Forklifts and accident free operations. Inadequate or lack of proper training has been identified as the major reason of accidents. Time constraints due to improper planning, non-availability of proper equipment, aging forklifts and poor maintenance systems can be directly associated with the managerial aspects contributing to accidents of Forklifts.

Need for the safety policy for the forklift trucks

In view of the dimensions of risks involved in the operations of Forklifts in an industrial environment and to improve productivity of the organization, management declares its safety policy.  The safety policy lays down the basic principle for safe upkeep of the Forklifts, work place, tools and tackles so that no accident occurs. It lays down the systems, method of selecting the right machine, using the right method and procedures. Safety policy stresses on proper planning of the systems, systems arrangement, capacity decisions, reporting system and proper maintenance system for the Forklifts. It lays down directions for worker’s training, safe working conditions and creating safety awareness in the organization. It provides reward and punishment system relating to the safety issues. Safety policy encourages everyone in the organization to become safety conscious. It provides directions for safety audits and quality assurance techniques to comply with the national and international standards.

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