Forklifts are useful and dynamic in just about any industrial setting, but some San Diego business owners may not be aware of the substantial liability risks these machines create. In 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported nearly 96,790 injuries involving forklift operations in American workplaces. This figure includes fatalities and serious accidents. Prior to 1999, statistics were even more alarming, which is why OSHA started requiring forklift operator training and certification.
Forklift safety compliance, including training certificates for all operators, is a smart way to reduce National City commercial insurance premiums. Here are four lessons operators learn before they get certified.
1. Make Sure All Views Are Clear and Unobstructed
Operating a forklift is a highly visual activity. Anything that may impair the vision of the operator should be avoided. The clear field of vision should be at least 35 degrees from each side of the load. Forklifts have a more stable center of gravity when the load is lower to the ground. Raising the cargo just to get a better view is a bad idea since the center of gravity is bound to be weakened, especially when going up or down inclines.
2. Identify the Most Stable Center of Gravity
A good portion of forklift safety training involves learning to identify the center of gravity that provides the best stability. Whenever an operator picks up a new load, he or she should briefly think about how the center of gravity has shifted and how it will impact speed, momentum, and braking time. To transport cargo smartly, the forklift operator should ascertain the weight of the freight by either inquiring or estimating, which should be taken into consideration along with the load limitations.
3. Use a Proper Platform When Using the Forklift as an Elevator
Raising an employee to a desired height with a forklift should only be done when it is equipped with a suitable platform securely attached to the forks. Suitable does not mean a cargo pallet. It means an actual platform with guardrails, slip-resistant floor, toe board, and emergency tethers. The forklift operator must always be seated and ready to control to machine even if it has been turned off. The elevated employee and the operator must be in constant communication with each other, and they should be given two-way radios when working in noisy environments.
4. Increase Overall Safety in the Workplace
Most forklift accidents involve injuries caused to pedestrians and employees who are not directly involved with cargo operations. This often happens in enclosed areas such as warehouses where forklift traffic lanes have not been delineated. A safe workplace requires solid and uncluttered surfaces for forklifts to roll on. Blind corners should be avoided and dark spots should be illuminated. Electric forklifts must be equipped with horns or other noise-making devices. Furthermore, when forklifts operate in very noisy industrial spaces, they should feature flashing lights and reflectors.
There are a variety of safety risks businesses can face, which makes it important to be covered with the right commercial insurance. Reach out to American Tri-Star to find out about the workers’ compensation, errors & omissions, directors & officers, and commercial auto insurance policies we offer. We are also a leading provider of health, auto, bond, and property insurance in National City. Give us a call today at 619-474-3900 for a free quote.