Vehicle safety is essential in helping prevent injuries in the warehouse. Each year, thousands of injuries related to forklifts and other warehouse vehicles occur in warehouses throughout the United States. Many times, workers are injured when forklifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer, forklifts are accidentally driven off loading docks, a forklift strikes them, or they fall while on elevated pallets.
Many accidents also involve property damage, including damage to racking, pipes, walls, overhead sprinklers, and machinery. Unfortunately, the majority of injuries and property damage can be attributed to lack of safe operating procedures, lack of safety rule enforcement, and inadequate training.
Here are tips you should know to maintain vehicle safety in your warehouse:
- Make sure workers observe speed limits. Put up speed limit signs to remind them. Drivers of forklifts should not exceed five mph.
- Only allow workers to operate vehicles if they have received training and certification. No one under the age of 18 should operate a forklift.
- Always buckle up. Wear a seatbelt when driving a forklift.
- Avoid reversing wherever possible. Plan routes so drivers can always see where they’re going. A one-way system is ideal. If drivers can’t avoid backing up, make sure they have someone to spot them.
- Maximize visibility. Install mirrors, if necessary, to aid the driver’s vision when reversing and driving around corners. Let your warehouse workers know that they must look both ways when exiting an aisle.
- Never drive a forklift with greasy or wet hands or shoes. This leads to slipping and sliding which could cause an accident.
- Enforce a zero-tolerance policy. Dangerous and reckless driving should not be tolerated at all.
- Keep aisles free of obstructions. Make sure your team understands they need to follow good housekeeping practices.
- Arrange for regular maintenance of vehicles. A trained professional must inspect and test the vehicle to make sure everything is in working order. However, staff can also key an eye out for obvious issues.
- Provide drivers with a checklist to review daily. The list should include items such as check warning lights on the dashboard, check tire air level, inspect seatbelts, etc.
- Display driver safety notices and signs. Signs should warn forklift drivers to be on the lookout for pedestrians, remind them to wear their seatbelt, report issues to management, etc.
- Maintain the floor to prevent overturning. Make sure parts of the floor aren’t uneven, too steep, or damaged.
- Use the horn. In a high-traffic warehouse, back-up horns should be used regularly.
- Use the proper equipment for the job. This is especially important when picking up odd-shaped loads.
- Use equipment for its intended use. Forklifts, pallet jacks, and hand trucks are not designed for passengers.
These tips, while far from comprehensive, provide a good starting point and reference guide for practicing warehouse vehicle safety. Warehouse vehicles are considered heavy machinery and all heavy machinery can be dangerous even when operated with caution. Stay alert and be extra careful when operating a forklift and other vehicles.
Instruct your team members to maintain safe operations around the warehouse equipment. Roughly 70% of all forklift accidents in the U.S. could have been prevented with proper training, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Don’t let your workers become another statistic by educating them about the hazards associated with warehouse vehicles.
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