Forklift Accident Prevention Planning in Warehouse Settings

October 4, 2016

Accident prevention should be a priority in any warehouse. Protocols should be in place for each aspect of each task performed, and staff should be well trained to follow safety protocols. Forklift operation is one of the most potentially dangerous job son the floor, so here are some tips for preventing forklift accidents.

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Forklift accident prevention planning has three separate components. First, a clear set of policies should be put in place. Second, any needed changes to the workplace should be implemented. Finally, all staff should be trained and aware of what they can do to ensure day to day worker protection.

Having clear policies and plan in place in case of forklift accident ensures that no matter who is on the crew, there is a clear protocol and a set of instructions to follow. Make sure this is in writing, in a large easy to spot binder, kept in a visible and memorable place. Four policies to include are:

  • An accident response policy. This outlines what the company has done to prevent forklift accidents, and what will be done in case of an accident. (A lawyer can help you make sure you cover yourself adequately from liability. Worker’s Comp information may need to be part of this section.)
  • An evacuation strategy. Have a plan for evacuating the building and the surrounding area if required. Run through this with your entire staff, and repeat for new hires. You may need strategies for several different scenarios, such as earthquake, flood, or fire as well as man-made events like a gas leak.
  • An equipment inspection policy. This should include a list of what to check during an inspection, as well as red flags to be on the lookout for to ensure nothing is overlooked. 
  • Medical training. First aid, CPR, and AED training is easy to obtain, and at least one person per shift should be certified. If you can get your entire workforce to attend a course so much the better.

Keeping the actual physical space as safe as possible and planning ahead for needs like evacuation and medical care is the next policy. Consider:

  • Marking exits clearly for rapid use if needed.
  • Keeping the warehouse floor clean to avoid trips, slips, and falls. Mark forklift paths, loading dock spaces, and borders clearly with rack signs, tape, and paint.
  • Checking and refilling first aid kits regularly. 
  • Having emergency response kits and policy copies readily available in easy to access locations.
  • Preventing aisle clutter, whether it is product, pallets, or boxes. 
  • Servicing forklifts on schedule. 

All workers who will be expected to operate forklifts should be certified and keep their certification up to date. In addition, all workers should:

  • Have protective equipment – safety vests, helmets, and gloves at a minimum.
  • Have working communication options – schedules, emergency buttons, phones.
  • Be encouraged to put safety over speed. Production is important, but a forklift accident can shut down a workplace floor and then nothing is getting done.

Preparing for trouble may mean you never end up having trouble at all. Planning for forklift accidents at the very least provides some measure of peace of mind.

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