Forklifts are dangerous pieces of machinery, and the process of loading and unloading them puts workers at significant risk — which often goes unrecognized until an accident happens.

In order to protect the driver, those doing the loading or unloading and any bystanders, there should be some basic precautions taken regarding forklifts:

1. All operators need to be properly trained. Too many operators think that a forklift is as easy to drive as an automobile, but it actually requires reversing the process in your head, because the front end of a forklift swings opposite of the way that the wheel turns.

2. Operators need to check their load before they begin moving it, rather than relying on someone else to secure it. Make sure that the wheels are chocked when loading and unloading.

3. Forklifts should be immediately stopped if someone enters the loading zone out of the operator’s sight. Spotters need to be designated to hand signal the operator so that bystanders don’t accidentally get crushed or gored.

4. Tip-overs can be prevented by moving slowly and carefully. Heavier loads and oddly shaped loads need to be moved especially carefully. Loads should always be moved at the lowest possible level.

5. A zero-tolerance policy on horseplay should be enforced. Any sort of horseplay or irresponsible driving can lead to serious injuries and death, so there should be immediate discipline for any intentional act that could endanger someone’s safety.

6. If you’e the driver, keep track of how many pedestrians are involved in the loading process and make sure that they are all in sight and remain still when you start moving. Make sure you keep your eyes on the spotters so that you can stop the vehicle if someone wanders into the traffic zone for the forklift while you’re in operation.

Anyone who has been injured due to a forklift accident in the workplace is entitled to compensation for his or her injuries, medical bills and lost wages. If you’re having trouble collecting what you are due, consider contacting an attorney right away.

Source: LBM Journal, “Brand Talk: 4 Ways To Keep Your Facility Safe,” March 24, 2017