OSHA estimates forklifts cause about 85 fatal accidents per year; 34,900 accidents result in serious injury; and 61,800 are classified as non-serious.
According to the Industrial Truck Association, there are about 855,900 forklifts in the U.S. Over 11% of all forklifts on average will be involved in some type of accident each year. If you operate this equipment, there is a possibility that you may have an accident at some point during your career. To help reduce the possibility of being injured, it's important to understand where and how these accidents occur.
The ITA also reports that the useful life of a lift truck is about 8 years. This means that about 90% of all forklifts will be involved in some type of accident during their useful life--again assuming only one accident per forklift.
Reminders for the Pedestrians
- Be aware that lift trucks cannot stop suddenly, they are designed to stop slowly to minimize load damage and maintain stability
- Stand clear of lift trucks in operation
- Avoid a run-in. The driver's visibility may be limited due to blind spots
- Be aware of the wide rear swing radius
- Use pedestrian walkways, or stay to one side of the equipment aisle
- Never ride on a forklift, unless authorized and the forklift is designed for riders
- Never pass under an elevated load
Workers on Foot
- Separate forklift traffic and other workers where possible
- Limit some aisles to workers on foot only or forklifts only
- Restrict the use of forklifts near time clocks, break rooms, cafeterias, and main exits, particularly when the flow of workers on foot is at a peak (such as at the end of a shift or during breaks)
- Install physical barriers where practical to ensure that workstations are isolated from aisles traveled by forklifts
- Evaluate intersections and other blind corners to determine whether overhead dome mirrors could improve the visibility of forklift operators or workers on foot
- Make every effort to alert workers when a forklift is nearby. Use horns, audible backup alarms, and flashing lights to warn workers and other forklift operators in the area. Flashing lights are especially important in areas where the ambient noise level is high