Safety+Health Magazine reports that forklift incidents may cause 35,000 serious injuries every year.

Proper training and attentive operation of these powered industrial trucks may help reduce your risk of serious injury.

Forklift operators must undergo training and make safety checks

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires forklift operators to complete a training program that includes practical experience. Operators must also undergo a performance evaluation to demonstrate competence.

You must stay aware of your surroundings because your load or environment may limit your ability to see hazards or bystanders. You should look in the direction you are traveling and make eye contact with others who may cross your path. Rearview mirrors and headlights can aid visibility.

You should inspect your lift each time you start a job. Make sure that your seat belt, brakes, lights and horn operate properly. Also check the condition of the lift parts that will support your load.

Forklifts pose a risk of tipping over

Forklifts are at greater risk of tipping over than other vehicles. Lifts have three points of support, like a triangle. You must operate your lift within this stability triangle. Also, a load’s weight, width or center of gravity may affect lift operation.

Several strategies can help minimize the risk of tipping over:

  • Move the forks as far apart as possible before sliding them under the load
  • Secure the load on the forks, and check for stability
  • Drive slowly around turns, and avoid sudden starts and stops
  • Honk your horn to alert others of your approach
  • Watch your speed in wet or slippery conditions

You are not completely enclosed when you drive a forklift, so always wear a seat belt. Without a restraint, you could find yourself ejected if the truck tips over.

There are many types of lift trucks, and learning how to operate one does not necessarily translate into knowing how to drive all of them.