Forklifts or Powered Industrial Trucks (PIT) were invented in 1906 to lift heavy materials. These machines are particularly helpful in a manufacturing setting where there are pallets or other heavy items to move. Using a forklift provides an easy way to move heavier items, while reducing the risk of hand, back, and neck injuries from actually personally lifting. While forklifts remain a useful tool, they can also be a dangerous tool if the forklift operator isn’t properly trained.
There are many different types of PITs on the market today. It’s important when purchasing a new PIT or bringing on a new Forklift operator to properly train all employees involved. Knowledge is power, and with such a powerful tool, accidents can happen. Common forklift accidents are being crushed by the vehicle, being wedged between the vehicle and a hard surface, being crushed between 2 vehicles, being ran over, being struck by falling material the forklift is carrying or lifting, and falling from the platform on the forks.
According to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, “Approximately 35,000 serious injuries and 62,000 non-serious injuries involving forklifts occur in the United States every year. OSHA estimates 11% of all forklifts are involved in accidents every year.” Because driving a forklift is different from driving a car, it is required by OSHA that forklift operators go through the proper training to become certified and the operator’s performance must be reevaluated every three years. The employer must have a record of documentation that the training has occurred on file.
Proper safety training will include operating, maintenance, refueling/recharging batteries, operating limitations, use of proper attachments and weight distribution, and more. For more information on ensuring your employees are properly trained to operate a forklift vehicle, visit OSHA’s e-tools for more details and training materials.