It’s hard to imagine a worksite without a forklift. There’s a reason why experience operating US industrial machinery is on job applications. It’s a serious skill.

Death statistics are impactful. The truth is that the 85 yearly deaths caused by forklift accidents are 85 too many. Forklift mishaps lead to 34,900 severe injuries a year—all likely preventable.

Knowing the risk of using heavy machinery can prevent forklift accidents. If you’re in the construction industry, using powered industrial trucks comes with the territory.

Here’s how to stay safe using them.

How to Avoid a Forklift Accident

Like driving, your best offense is playing defense. While no one expects a forklift accident, you can err on the side of caution with these tips.

1. Gain Spatial Awareness

Whether you’re a new or rehearsed forklift driver, not all machines are the same. Seated and standing forklifts can change how you position yourself and your load.

Spatial awareness changes on each machine and in different environments. Forklifts in a warehouse need more precision than using one outdoors.

Learning how to drive a forklift means growing accustomed to its size in relation to your workspace. Be sure to move potential obstacles beforehand to pave a safe path.

2. Gain Mechanical Awareness

The leading cause of forklift operator injuries comes from forklift overturns. That’s code for slow down, operators

Overturns stem from jolted movements, speed, uneven loads, and lack of spatial awareness. Like driving, cars are extensions of ourselves—it’s important to know your vehicle.

3. Learn the Vehicle

To prevent forklift accidents caused by machine issues, always check your forklift for the basics. Make sure it has the following:

  • A smooth-moving mast to lift loads up and down
  • Full tires
  • Thick, non-squeaking brake pads
  • Good steering wheel mobility
  • Balanced coolant levels to prevent overheating

Like any vehicle, it’s best to assess for red flags before hitting the gas.

4. Use a Forklift Service

When in doubt, use a forklift service! If you’re renting, repairing, or buying a forklift, Superior Industrial Products can provide you with a bonus education and training.

There’s no reason to gamble with your safety. As a safety-first company, we help you know your machine to stay safe and successful.

5. Communicate

Successful forklift operations involve physical and mental aptitude. Knowing how to drive a forklift without good communication makes for a poor forklift operator.

Forklifts are loud, so you can be too. Wear visible clothing for your staff. Communicate with workers about your agenda to keep clear of other vehicles.

Good communication ensures safe forklift operating.

Forklift Accident Prevention

Safe forklift operators are focused. Juggling yourself, the machine, the load, and the environment requires optimal alertness. While forklifts move slower than cars, heavy machinery is dangerous.

It’s true that knowledge is power, but knowing how to work a forklift doesn’t do much without practice. Forklift accidents are easily prevented through continued use.

The good news is you’re not on your own to learn. Contact us today for forklift parts, equipment, and allied products to keep you safely truckin’ along.