Safety spotlight: The keys to proper forklift operation

October 10, 2023

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has sharpened its safety enforcement on businesses whose operations rely heavily on forklift operation to transport products from one place to another.That means manufacturing companies in particular and other businesses with warehouse facilities need to be vigilant.One component of the initiative centers on making sure forklifts are equipped with data plates that specify load capacities of those machines and that of the attachments. Unsafe forklift operations could result in fines of $13,260 for serious violations and up to $132,598 for willful and/or repeated violations. Willful or repeat violators also could face added OSHA scrutiny.In 2018, OSHA cited employers for 2,294 violations involving forklift drivers who either weren't certified or lacked a re-certification. That was one of OSHA's most-cited violations last year.But companies can lessen the likelihood of that agency’s involvement by adhering strict safety guidelines for powered industrial trucks. Syndeo provides training that includes a safety video, PowerPoint presentation, written exam and an operation/driving test. Forklift operators must be at least 18.OSHA also requires these safety measures:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for operation and maintenance schedules.
  • Wear a seatbelt when the forklift has one. Forklifts without a seatbelt should be removed from service.
  • Don’t exceed the rated load and ensure it is balanced and stable.
  • Do not drive with the forks or a load raised more than a few inches off the ground.
  • Maintain a safe distance from platform and ramp edges.
  • Be aware of other equipment in the work area.
  • Have clear visibility of the work area and ensure you have enough clearance when raising, loading and operating a forklift.
  • Use horns at cross aisles and obstructed areas.
  • Do not give rides or use the forks to lift people.
  • Allow only trained and certified workers to operate a forklift.
  • Any powered industrial trucks that are in need of repair or is defective or in any way unsafe should be removed from service.
  • Keep forklifts in clean condition and free of excess oil and grease.

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