Forklift accidents can be devastating, and when a forklift tips over, collides with another object, drops its payload, or loses traction on a floor surface, employee injury and damaged products can ruin the day (to say the least) for everyone involved.

While accidents may happen for any number of reasons (including improper traffic signaling or miscommunication), the most common causes of forklift tips and slides are related to a loss of control. When an operator loses control over the speed, mast, or direction of motion, observers—including the operator—can only watch helplessly as the situation unfolds. So don’t let this happen. Operators should be trained to recognize situations that call for tight control and focused attention, and they know how to regain control when things get difficult. Keep these tips in mind.

Handling Pallets

Keep the forks level with the ground and do not insert them into the pallet until they’re high enough. Maintain proper width between the forks and insert them to a point that covers at least two thirds of the load length.

Maintaining Control While Traveling

Tilt loads backward toward the truck and keep the forks as low to the floor as possible while traveling. Assess workplace conditions, including floor surface and visibility, before establishing a speed and load weight. Decrease speed at corners, and recognize that pedestrians may appear at any time.

Pay close attention to the proximity of powerlines and overhead obstacles. When a load blocks your vision, travel backward, and always look in the direction of travel. Never turn the forklift when traveling on a ramp, and do not elevate the load when the truck is positioned on an incline.

Proper Steering for Maximum Control

Position the load over the front wheels as far as possible. Never make sharp steering wheel turns while traveling at high speed. Turn with the rear wheels and do not add extra weight to a counterweight to improve steering. Most important: Remember that overloading a lift truck can interfere with steering control, even under the safest workplace conditions.

Parking the Lift Truck

Before parking the truck, make sure you are in an approved location. Set the brakes, then lower the forks or loads to the floor. Neutralize the controls and turn off the motor, and before walking away, disconnect the battery or shut down the propane fuel system.

For more on how to secure a lift truck in a parked position and maintain control while lifting, lowering, and traveling, contact the materials handling experts at Liftow.