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Common sense tips can prevent catastrophic forklift accidents

AdobeStock_71248957 resize 3.jpgIf you are a forklift operator in a Minnesota warehouse, fulfillment center or another facility, you will know that lift trucks are not only timesaving machines but also excellent replacements for manual lifting of heavy objects that can cause life-altering injuries. However, many workers cannot resist the temptation of playing around on forklifts, not realizing how dangerous lift trucks can be. For that reason, it is crucial that only operators with proper training step foot on forklifts.

To ensure your safety and the safety of co-workers, you should learn the operation and safety rules of every forklift you operate. Forklifts come in different sizes and types, each posing unique hazards.

Safety tips that might come in handy

Forklifts are not toys — some weigh over three tons, and they can travel at speeds up to 10 mph, making them dangerous machines that can cause severe injuries. Although you might see some of the following safety tips as common sense, ignoring them can lead to complacency, but taking note might save one or more lives:

  • Training: Make sure you are appropriately qualified by undergoing adequate training for safe operation — including safe driving and loading. Only operate a forklift that has the capacity for which you are trained.
  • Speed safety: Never use the forklift for its speed. Running it at unsafe speeds poses significant accident and injury threats, and extra care is necessary when you make turns — it does not take much for a forklift to tip over.
  • Appropriate clothing: If you are not selective when you dress, you can create dangerous situations. You should wear high-visibility clothing, safety shoes and a hard hat, and take note that loose-fitting clothing could catch in parts of the forklift.
  • Stable loads: Make sure you receive the necessary training to load your forklift safely and balanced — tipped loads can cause injuries to other workers. You must also be able to assess a load for balance and appropriate height and secure it adequately.
  • Equipment checks: Never use the forklift before carrying out a routine inspection of the controls, brakes, tires, steering, mast and any built-in warning devices. Do not use the forklift before fixing all defects or malfunctions.

These are but some of the safety tips that can protect the forklift operator, but if you are a pedestrian working near a forklift, you may also be at risk of suffering injuries. You should keep away from the paths where forklifts travel and never place yourself below the elevated forks or between the forklift and a wall or other object to avoid crushing accidents.

If you suffer a forklift-related injury, you can pursue financial relief through the Minnesota workers' compensation insurance program. Forklift accidents can cause debilitating injuries, and legal counsel can assist with the complicated claims process in pursuit of maximum applicable benefits.

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