5 Ways to Prevent Fork Lift Overturns

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15 September 2017
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15 September 2017, Comments 0

The Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) conducts a month long safety campaign every September in order to raise  awareness towards the dangers of fork lifts in the workplace. This year the safety campaign, known as Safetember, is focusing on the theme “You don’t walk away from a fork lift accident”.

A fork lift truck is a very effective piece of equipment that can be used to lift and move heavy materials over short distances. There are also key reasons why fork lifts are considered to be a serious workplace hazard because they can weigh around 9 tons, travel up to 18mph and capable of lifting heavy loads to considerable heights. There are a wide range of fork lifts available in the market including; counterbalance trucks, sideloader, reach trucks, telescopic handler to name a few. Each type of fork lift is designed to carry out specific tasks and using the wrong fork lift could have serious consequences on the safety of the operator or other employees.

According to the FLTA, over 1,300 fork lift accidents takes place in a year. Recently a firm was fined £450,000 after the death of a young employee, who was not correctly trained by the company, was crushed by the fork lift he was driving. Another company was fined around £10,000 after their 58 year old employee suffered serious injuries when the truck and it’s man-riding cage overturned. Fatal accidents or serious injuries mentioned above were caused by the vehicle overturning, which could have been easily avoided.

A fork lift overturning is the most common incident, accounting for 24% of all fork lift accidents. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also states that “vehicle overturns cause nearly a fifth of all deaths in vehicles at work accidents”. Organisations should conduct workplace risk assessments to identify risks and provide adequate training where necessary. There are many reasons why a fork lift could overturn and we highlight some of the common causes below:

  • Travelling on steep slopes.
  • Slippery surfaces such as oil or grease patches, ice or even just water
  • Soft or uneven ground
  • Going over kerbs, steps or other edges at high speeds
  • Overloaded or unevenly loaded

As mentioned earlier, fork lift overturns can be avoided if the right precautions are followed. We look at the 5 ways a fork lift overturning can be prevented:

  1. Speed guidelines – always follow the speed guidelines provided by the employer or the vehicle manufacturer
  2. Under trained staff – Restrict the use of fork lifts to staff members who have been adequately trained and drivers that are authorised.
  3. Appropriate load – Take multiple trips if you have to instead of overloading the vehicle as it can become very unstable and difficult to steer. Before moving, keep the load low to the ground and only raise the load enough to clear the floor surface. Never raise or lower the load while you’re moving.
  4. Suitable surface – make sure to only drive the vehicle over surfaces they are designed for. Only use pre planned suitable routes that avoids steep slopes, uneven or slippery surfaces.
  5. Seatbelts or restraints – Always wear seatbelt or restraints fitted within the fork lift so that they are not taking risks that could cause vehicles to overturn.

A recent survey conducted by the FLTA suggests that as many as 90% of operators did not wear seatbelts/restraints when operating a fork lift. Seatbelts or restraints serves as an important purpose of preventing the driver from trying to jump off an overturning vehicle (HSE). In the event of an overturn, the driver should always brace themselves and hold firmly on a secure part inside the cab while leaning the opposite direction of the overturn. Carrying a personal protection alarm with a built in man down feature is advised, if you are operating a fork lift alone for long periods. The device will automatically raise an alarm as it will detect the sudden tilt or impact from the fork lift overturning, especially useful if the driver falls unconscious and is unable to raise an alarm by themselves.

If you would like to read more on the safe use of fork lifts visit the FLTA website and find out more information on their Safetember campaign. Please contact our sales team at sales@guardian24.co.uk or call 0207 118 8247 to request a demonstration of the MicroGuard device and see how it could help protect the safety of your lone working employees.

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