Forklifts are used across many organisations from warehouses to factories and even in mass supermarkets. Accidents involving forklifts are also commonplace with international statistics estimating they account for 1% of workplace incidents but these tend to be more serious. Even though they only account for 1% of accidents, they also account for 11% of serious accidents at work.

Regulation in South Africa is meant to reduce forklift accidents, yet, there are additional steps that can further reduce the chance of incidents. The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, explains further: “Taking additional effort to increase forklift safety is essential. This is not only for the drivers but the people one comes into contact with who do not have forklift certification or know how to safely behave around these machines.

“As such, forklift safety should be prioritised in every organisation making use of these machines. Below are a number of safety tips that companies should include in their forklift safety strategy.”

  1. Equipment checks before each use, should be standard policy along with the requirement to notify management immediately, about damages or problems.
  2. Never neglect to wear your protective gear and make it a requirement for others in warehouse environments, that come into close contact with forklifts, to do the same.
  3. Not buckling in is a leading cause of injuries in forklift accidents, thus, always buckle up.
  4. Use your hooter. Make those around you aware of your presence, particularly if they may not be aware that they are in your path.
  5. Do not exceed the weight capacity of the forklift to reduce risk of tipping over.
  6. Another cause of accidents is not parking correctly: not lowering the forks, not engaging the parking brake or not setting the controls to neutral. As you would follow a certain process when starting the forklift, follow one when parking it as well. Additionally, use wheel blocks.
  7. Be cautious when ascending or descending ramps and follow the training on this to avoid another common source of accidents
  8. Forklifts should be maintained to avoid preventable accidents and damages to stock and equipment.
  9. Clean forklifts regularly with a particular focus on removing oil and grease.
  10. Raise awareness levels of those on the floor that forklifts are in operation with corner mirrors, floor markings and signage.

The stats alone clearly show the importance of focussing on forklift safety. “Yet, when you see it as well, its importance cannot be emphasised enough. MasterDrive, in its training of drivers, has noticed the need for more awareness around lift truck training. Consequently, MasterDrive is open to consultation on any matters involving driver training,” says Herbert.