Lessons from losses – forklift operations

By: Courtney Rosengartner
Sr. Risk Solutions Specialist

While unloading slabs of granite from a forklift, an individual sustained a fracture when the vehicle ran over his foot. Due to the significance of his injury, he was taken to the hospital and kept overnight. His foot required surgery, but due to the swelling, it was postponed for a few weeks. Return to work opportunities were unavailable because of his inability to stand, and he was out of work for a number of months. His injury required routine pain medication, physical therapy, and crutches for several months. Besides enduring intense physical pain, this mishap incurred over $150,000 in claim costs.

Powered industrial trucks are addressed in specific Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. These standards address how to protect workers from injury and ensure that operators are competent through regular, required training. Hazards posed by forklifts vary by the type of truck, workplace and the conditions present. Forklift operators and employees working around these operations are at risk of hazards such as collisions, falls, tip-overs, and struck-by conditions. In general, follow these guidelines outlined by OSHA:

Forklift operations
  • Always operate the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Always wear a seatbelt when the forklift has one
  • Never exceed the rated load and ensure it is stable and balanced
  • Do not raise or lower the load while traveling
  • Keep a safe distance from platform and ramp edges
  • Be aware of other vehicles in the work area
  • Have clear visibility of the work area and ensure you have enough clearance when raising, loading, and operating a forklift
  • Use proper footing and the handhold, if available, when entering the lift
  • Use horns at cross aisles and obstructed areas
  • Watch for pedestrians and observe the speed limit
  • Do not give rides or use the forks to lift people

Safety training

  • Only trained and certified workers may operate a forklift
  • Ensure operators are trained on types of trucks in use

Forklift maintenance

  • Remove from service any forklift found to be in unsafe operating condition
  • Keep forklifts in clean condition, free of excess oil and grease
  • Repair and maintain according to the manufacturer’s recommendations

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