forklift lifting product pallets.

Forklifts are indispensable in warehouses, construction sites, and numerous other settings where heavy lifting and material handling are required. However, their operation comes with significant risk, particularly when safety protocols are overlooked. Each year, accidents involving forklifts are responsible for numerous injuries and fatalities, many preventable.

Below, we’ll highlight the top 10 most common forklift accidents and injuries and provide practical advice on how to avoid these hazards.

1. Foot Injuries

One of the most common types of forklift accidents involves foot injuries, which typically occur when a forklift runs over the operator’s or a pedestrian’s feet. These injuries can range from fractures and crush injuries to amputations. To prevent such accidents, operators should always be aware of their surroundings and wear steel-toed safety boots that provide protection against heavy rolling objects.

Additionally, pedestrians should be trained to keep a safe distance from operating forklifts, and designated walkways should be clearly marked and maintained.

2. Back Injuries

Back injuries are frequently reported among forklift operators, often resulting from improper lifting techniques or prolonged operation without sufficient breaks. These injuries can be debilitating, leading to long-term disability and significant medical costs. To prevent them, operators should receive training on proper lifting methods, including using the legs to lift heavy objects rather than the back.

Employers should also enforce regular break schedules to allow operators to rest and perform stretching exercises, which can minimize the risk of muscle strains and spinal injuries.

3. Crush Injuries from Tipping Over

Forklifts can tip over due to improper loading, uneven surfaces, or incorrect handling during turning maneuvers. These tip-over incidents can result in severe crush injuries to operators and nearby workers.

To avoid such accidents, it’s crucial to ensure that forklifts are only operated by trained personnel who understand how to load and balance the vehicle properly. Operators should be trained to handle sharp turns with caution and to avoid abrupt stops and starts.

Furthermore, the use of seat belts can be a critical safety measure to keep operators from being thrown from a tipping vehicle and potentially crushed.

4. Injuries from Falling Loads

Loads that fall from forklifts can cause severe injuries to operators and nearby workers. These incidents often occur due to improperly secured heavy loads or sudden movements that destabilize the cargo.

To minimize these risks, it is crucial for operators to ensure that all loads are securely fastened before movement begins. Training should emphasize the importance of smooth operation without abrupt changes in speed or direction. Regular maintenance checks on the forklift’s forks and lifting mechanisms can also help prevent equipment failures that lead to falling loads.

5. Collisions with Pedestrians

Warehouse with forklift.

Forklifts operating in areas frequented by pedestrians can lead to collisions, resulting in serious injuries or fatalities. Visibility issues, blind spots, distracted driving, or pedestrian negligence are common culprits. Prevention strategies include implementing strict traffic management policies that separate pedestrian and forklift traffic by using designated walkways and barriers. Forklifts should be equipped with audible warning devices and flashing lights to alert pedestrians of their presence.

Additionally, properly training both drivers and pedestrians in proper awareness and caution can drastically reduce these types of incidents.

6. Hand and Arm Injuries

Operators or workers can suffer hand and arm injuries if these body parts get caught in the forklift’s machinery or are struck by objects while the forklift is moving. These injuries can be prevented by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and arm guards, and by ensuring that all safety guards on the forklift are in place and functional.

Operators should also be trained to keep limbs inside the vehicle’s cabin whenever the forklift is in operation and to ensure that all loads are stable and secure.

7. Head Injuries

Head injuries in forklift operations can occur if an operator or a pedestrian is struck by part of the forklift, a load, or debris. The risk of head injuries can be reduced by wearing safety helmets and ensuring that the forklift operates within safe speed limits, especially in areas with overhead obstacles. Operators should be trained on the proper stacking and unstacking techniques to prevent objects from falling.

Additionally, maintaining clear visibility in operating areas and using spotters when moving large or unstable loads can further protect against head injuries.

8. Neck and Shoulder Injuries

Neck and shoulder injuries among forklift operators are often due to repetitive movements or poor ergonomic practices. These types of injuries can lead to chronic pain and disability if not addressed.

To prevent such injuries, it’s important to design workstations and forklift cabins that support proper posture. Operators should be provided with seats that offer sufficient back and neck support, and controls should be within easy reach to avoid overstretching.

Regular training on ergonomic practices and encouraging operators to take frequent breaks can also help reduce the occurrence of these injuries.

9. Leg and Knee Injuries

Leg and knee injuries can happen when operators incorrectly mount or dismount a forklift, or if they slip and fall due to poor foot traction. Preventing these injuries involves the use of anti-slip steps and footwear, as well as training operators on the correct techniques for entering and exiting a forklift.

Additionally, keeping the forklift and surrounding work areas clean and free of hazards such as spills or debris can greatly reduce the risk of slips and falls.

10. Injuries Caused by Low-Quality Seating

Poor seating in forklifts can lead to a variety of musculoskeletal injuries including lower back pain, sciatica, and other discomforts that affect the spine and hips. These injuries are often the result of inadequate lumbar support, non-ergonomic seat design, or prolonged periods of sitting without adequate cushioning.

To prevent such issues, it is crucial to invest in high-quality, ergonomic seating that provides proper support to the operator’s back and thighs. Seats should be adjustable to accommodate different body types and postures, ensuring that operators can maintain a neutral position while driving.

Additionally, implementing regular maintenance checks to replace worn or damaged seats can further protect operators from potential injuries associated with poor seating.

Enhance Operator Safety with Ergonomic Forklift Seats

ergonomic forklift seat

At Suburban Seating & Safety, we understand the critical role that proper seating plays in maintaining not only the comfort but also the health and safety of forklift operators.

Our wide selection of high-quality, ergonomic forklift seats, including Toyota forklift seats, is tailored to meet the diverse needs of modern workplaces. By choosing our ergonomic seats, businesses can ensure their operators are equipped with the support needed to perform their duties safely and efficiently.

Invest in your employees’ well-being and safety today with Suburban Seating & Safety, and experience the difference that quality seating can make in your operational productivity and safety records.

Forklift safetyInjury preventionWorkplace injuries