Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Understanding the Workplace

  • Physical Conditions
  • Pedestrian Traffic
  • Ramps and Grades
  • Loading Docks
  • Narrow Aisles
  • Elevators
  • Enclosed and Hazardous Areas

Physical Conditions

  • Slippery Conditions
  • Obstructions and Uneven Surfaces
  • Floor Loading Limits
  • Overhead Clearance

Slippery Conditions
Slow down to a speed that you can maintain control.
Figure 2. Slow down to a speed at which you can maintain control.

Maintain contact with ground by crossing uneven areas at an angle.
Figure 3. Maintain contact with ground by crossing uneven areas at an angle.
Potential Hazards:
  • Danger of skidding when traveling on oil, grease, water or other spills.
  • Danger of tipover when traveling on ice, snow, mud, gravel and uneven areas.
Requirements and Recommended Practices:
  • Avoid the hazardous surface when feasible.
  • Spread absorbent material on slick areas that you cannot avoid.
  • Cross the slippery area slowly and cautiously.
  • Report the area to prevent others from slipping.
  • Post a sign or warning cones until the area can be cleaned.
  • Drive slowly! (Figure 2)
  • Maintain contact with the ground by crossing uneven areas at an angle. (Figure 3)
  • Clean up the oil or grease spill before proceeding. Driving over an oil or grease spot will enlarge the hazardous area.

Obstructions and Uneven Surfaces
Get off the forklift and remove the obstruction.
Figure 4. Get off the forklift and remove the obstruction.
Potential Hazards:
  • Danger of tipover when traveling over obstructions.
  • Danger of tipover in holes and bumps.
Requirements and Recommended Practices:
  • Keep all aisles clear.
  • Watch out for overhead obstructions.
  • Avoid the obstruction or get off the forklift and remove the obstruction. See Parking.
  • Never drive straight across speed bumps or railroad tracks. Cross slowly at a 45 degree angle.
  • Maintain steering control by keeping contact with the ground at all times.
  • If an area is cluttered, walk the route first to spot problems.
For additional information, see Operating a Forklift - Traveling & Maneuvering.

Floor Loading Limits 
Forklift weight exceeded the load limit of the flooring.
Figure 5. Forklift weight exceeded the load limit of the flooring.
Potential Hazards:
  • Danger of collapsing floor.
Requirements and Recommended Practices:
  • Observe posted floor loading limits.
  • Inspect the condition of the floor. Look for holes or weakened flooring, loose objects or obstructions, protruding nails or boards.
  • Inform supervisor immediately if flooring is defective.
  • Do not travel over surface that cannot support the weight of the lift truck, its load and its operator.
  • Do not enter a box car or semi-van without inspecting its floor and knowing its load limits.
For additional information, see Load Handling: Operating the Forklift.

Overhead Clearance
Ensure adequate overhead clearance.
Figure 6. Ensure adequate overhead clearance.
Potential Hazards:
  • Damage to lights, stacks, doors, sprinklers, pipes.
  • Damage to load.
  • Danger of tipover.
Requirements and Recommended Practices:
  • Be aware of the height of fixtures.
  • Do not travel with loads elevated.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Case Reports: Conclusions


National fatality data indicate that the three most common forklift-related fatalities involve forklift overturns, workers on foot being struck by forklifts, and workers falling from forklifts. The case studies indicate that the forklift, the factory environment, and actions of the operator can all contribute to fatal incidents involving forklifts. In addition, these fatalities indicate that many workers and employers are not using or may be unaware of safety procedures and the proper use of forklifts to reduce the risk of injury and death.



Reducing the risk of forklift incidents requires a safe work environment, a safe forklift, comprehensive worker training, safe work practices, and systematic traffic management.
NIOSH recommends that employers and workers comply with OSHA regulations and consensus standards, maintain equipment, and take the following measures to prevent injury when operating or working near forklifts.

Worker Training

  • Make sure that workers do not operate a forklift unless they have been trained and licensed.
  • Develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written safety program that includes worker training, operator licensure, and a timetable for reviewing and revising the program. A comprehensive training program is important for preventing injury and death. Operator training should address factors that affect the stability of a forklift—such as the weight and symmetry of the load, the speed at which the forklift is traveling, operating surface, tire pressure, and driving behavior.
  • Inform operators of sit-down type forklifts that they can be crushed by the overhead guard or another part of the truck after jumping from the overturning forklift. The operator of a sit-down type forklift should stay with the truck if lateral or longitudinal tip over occurs. The operator should hold on firmly and lean away from the point of impact.
  • Train operators of stand-up type forklifts with rear-entry access to exit from the truck by stepping backward if a lateral tip over occurs.
  • Ensure that operator restraint systems are being used on sit-down type forklifts. Since 1992, forklift manufacturers have been required to equip new sit-down type forklifts with operator restraint systems. Many manufacturers of these forklifts offer restraint systems that can be retrofitted on older forklifts. Many of the fatalities resulting from overturns of sit-down type forklifts might have been prevented if the operator had been restrained. The overhead guard of the forklift is generally the part that crushes the operator's head or torso after he or she falls or jumps outside of the operator's compartment. The risk of being crushed by the overhead guard or another rigid part of the forklift is greatly reduced if the operator of a sit-down type forklift remains inside the operator's compartment. Because many forklifts are not equipped with a restraint system and operator compliance is less than 100% on forklifts equipped with a restraint system, operators of sit-down type forklifts should be instructed not to jump from the operator's compartment but to stay inside by leaning in the opposite direction of the overturn.
  • Train operators to handle asymmetrical loads when their work includes this activity.

Forklift Inspection and Maintenance

  • Establish a vehicle inspection and maintenance program.
  • Retrofit old sit-down type forklifts with an operator restraint system if possible.


  • Ensure that operators use only an approved lifting cage and adhere to general safety practices for elevating personnel with a forklift. Also, secure the platform to the lifting carriage or forks.
  • Provide means for personnel on the platform to shut off power to the truck whenever the truck is equipped with vertical only or vertical and horizontal controls for lifting personnel.

Workers on Foot

  • Separate forklift traffic and other workers where possible.
  • Limit some aisles to workers on foot only or forklifts only.
  • Restrict the use of forklifts near time clocks, break rooms, cafeterias, and main exits, particularly when the flow of workers on foot is at a peak (such as at the end of a shift or during breaks).
  • Install physical barriers where practical to ensure that workstations are isolated from aisles traveled by forklifts.
  • Evaluate intersections and other blind corners to determine whether overhead dome mirrors could improve the visibility of forklift operators or workers on foot.
  • Make every effort to alert workers when a forklift is nearby. Use horns, audible backup alarms, and flashing lights to warn workers and other forklift operators in the area. Flashing lights are especially important in areas where the ambient noise level is high.

Work Environment

  • Ensure that workplace safety inspections are routinely conducted by a person who can identify hazards and conditions that are dangerous to workers. Hazards include obstructions in the aisle, blind corners and intersections, and forklifts that come too close to workers on foot. The person who conducts the inspections should have the authority to implement prompt corrective measures.
  • Install the workstations, control panel, and equipment away from the aisle when possible. Do not store bins, racks, or other materials at corners, intersections,or other locations that obstruct the view of operators or workers at workstations.
  • Enforce safe driving practices such as obeying speed limits, stopping at stop signs, and slowing down and blowing the horn at intersections.
  • Repair and maintain cracks, crumbling edges, and other defects on loading docks, aisles, and other operating surfaces.


  • Do not operate a forklift unless you have been trained and licensed.
  • Use seatbelts if they are available.
  • Report to your supervisor any damage or problems that occur with a forklift during your shift.
  • Do not jump from an overturning, sit-down type forklift. Stay with the truck if lateral or longitudinal tip over occurs. Hold on firmly and lean in the opposite direction of the overturn.
  • Exit from a stand-up type forklift with rear-entry access by stepping backward if a lateral tip over occurs.
  • Use extreme caution on grades, ramps, or inclines. Normally you should travel only straight up and down.
  • On all grades, tilt the load back if applicable, and raise it only as far as needed to clear the road surface.
  • Do not raise or lower the forks while the forklift is moving.
  • Do not handle loads that are heavier than the rated weight capacity of the forklift.
  • Operate the forklift at a speed that will permit it to be stopped safely.
  • Slow down and sound the horn at intersections and other locations where vision is obstructed.
  • Look toward the path of travel and keep a clear view of it.
  • Do not allow passengers to ride on forklift trucks unless a seat is provided.
  • When dismounting from a forklift, always set the parking brake, lower the forks, and neutralize the controls.
  • Do not drive up to anyone standing in front of a bench or other fixed object.
  • Do not use a forklift to elevate workers who are standing on the forks.
  • Do not elevate a worker on a platform unless the vehicle is directly below the work area.
  • Whenever a truck is used to elevate personnel, secure the elevating platform to the lifting carriage or forks of the forklift.
  • Use a restraining means such as rails, chains, or a body belt with a lanyard or deceleration device for the person(s) on the platform.
  • Do not drive to another location with the work platform elevated.