Tips for safe operation of forklifts in New York

Forklifts are important workplace tools, and even more important is proper safety when using them.

Forklifts are very useful for jobs where large loads need to be moved, and are very common in warehouse settings in New York. With any piece of heavy machinery, however, there are risks involved for injury and death, and knowing the important safety requirements when operating or working around forklifts can drastically reduce the chance of injury.

Stay out of the way

Workers should never stand behind a moving or operational machine. The New York Times states that in June 2014, a Brooklyn worker was killed when a forklift he was trying to push from behind crushed him against a wall when it rolled backward. It was later revealed that he had made the further mistake of trying to push the heavy machine up a ramp.

Check the forklift before operation

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, inspection before operating a forklift is one of the most important ways to ensure smooth operation and minimize risks and hazards. A pre-operation inspection involves the following steps:

  • Make sure all of the device’s tires are at the proper pressure level, and make sure there are no gouges or cuts.
  • Inspect the hydraulic system to make sure there are no cracks or leaks.
  • All fluid levels should be checked, and refills conducted as necessary.
  • The forks themselves must be in good operating condition, including the heel and top retaining pin.
  • Always have an operator manual on hand.
  • Do not operate a forklift without all of the safety devices functioning. Even a seatbelt is an important safety device.

Additionally, workers should keep debris, grease and other objects out of the compartment or secured. Workers should use a long object such as a stick when checking the tension of the chain. Using the hands can lead to injury such as getting fingers caught in the chain. Properly preparing before using a forklift can significantly reduce the chance of injury.

Safety around pedestrians is important

OSHA advises to take care when using forklifts around pedestrians. Workers should always use the horn to warn people of their presence, especially at intersections and blind corners. Pedestrians always have the right of way, so workers should yield to them. Using a spotter to alert when something is in the machine’s blind spots is highly recommended when operating a forklift.

Even when all of the proper safety precautions are taken into account, accidents can happen. Workers in New York who have suffered an injury while operating or working around a forklift may want to consult an attorney who is experienced in workers’ compensation claims.