National Forklift Safety Day is an event held by the Industrial Truck Association that takes place on June 13 in Washington, D.C., and will serve to highlight the lift truck industry’s dedication to safety and education. As we celebrate the 10th year of National Forklift Safety Day, it’s important to remember that safe forklift practices are vital year-round. Since forklifts are heavy — weighing up to 9,000 pounds — and can be fast (traveling up to 18 mph!) they can become a hazard in the workplace to inventory, their operators, and pedestrians.
History of Industrial Lift Trucks
It’s hard to believe that the first real material handling equipment was invented 100+ years ago in 1897! This equipment wasn’t what we see today, but merely iron axles and wheels, called a two-wheel hand truck. Before that, moving heavy objects even a short distance took an enormous amount of effort and manpower. Then, in 1906, the PA Railroad system found a way to put both vertical and horizontal lifting into one machine — the powered platform truck. Since then, the lift truck has evolved to become a relied-upon machine in the industrial workplace.
The Importance of Forklift Safety
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) notes that each year nearly 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 are seriously injured in forklift-related incidents. Forklift overturns are the leading cause of fatalities and represent about 25 percent of all forklift-related deaths, while foot injuries are the most prevalent of nonfatal incidents.
Forklifts are one of the most critical tools for the material handling professional in warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturing plants. Moving large objects through an industrial space requires a trained and alert operator, floor tape, signage, and physical barriers to protect workers, equipment, and inventory. Your facility would have trouble operating without them, which is why it’s important to follow everyday forklift safety tips.
Level up your safety further with other safeguards
Furthermore, modern technologies and equipment can take your forklift safety game to the next level. This is typically called “risk-reduction technology.” Devices such as proximity warning sensors, truck operation cameras, and weight load indicators assist operators with being safer. Training on any new technology is critical and is usually offered by the supplier.
Even though you have trained and licensed forklift operators, you may also need guarding or barrier equipment for pallet racking such as rack safety netting or rack safety straps, which can help prevent accidents as well. Depending on your application, you may be trying to protect longitudinal flue space or prevent objects from falling out of bays onto walkways, work areas, or equipment. Most often when forklifts are involved, however, you are probably looking to prevent pallet push-through.
Helpful Forklift Safety Resources
We’ve put together some links for further information on how to keep your facility safe year-round when it comes to forklifts.
• OSHA – Powered Industrial Trucks – Forklifts
• EHS Daily Advisory – Latest Tips for Forklift Safety
• Cisco-Eagle – A Step-by-Step Safety Process for Forklifts and Pedestrians
• Grainger – Forklift Safety Training Guide
• National Safety Council – Forklift Training for Lift Truck Operators
If safe forklift practices weren’t high on your radar right already, hopefully this information helps energize you to have a larger discussion with your team. Of course, our team at Adrian’s is happy to help you determine what areas of your operation could use some additional safety measures. Request a free sample of one of our products today!
This article was originally published in 2020 and has since been updated.