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Top Forklift Safety Tips for a Successful Warehouse

Top Forklift Safety Tips for a Successful Warehouse

Warehouse safety doesn’t have to be difficult! Whether you’re a manager or an operator, follow these easy forklift safety tips to promote the best work environment.

P.S. Not a forklift operator, but work around them regularly? Check out our blog post about pedestrian safety!



Warehouse Manager Safety Tips

1. Designate pedestrian areas.

As many as 13% of all fatal forklift injuries in the US happen when pedestrians are struck by a forklift.

While your operators can, and should, continually scan for pedestrians, it’s best to remove the threat entirely. Any form of separation will help prevent injuries.

If you designate specific areas as forklift-only and pedestrian-only, it’ll make your warehouse safer overall. You can even put up bollards to protect foot traffic.

Check out our blog post about pedestrian safety to learn more.

*Technology Tip*

Today, with AI technology, an option for new forklifts is pedestrian-sensing equipment. It can see pedestrians and take control of the forklift to prevent it from hitting someone.

There are also aftermarket options for existing forklifts, like Toyota Material Handling’s SEnS+. Our Hugg & Hall service team is happy to help you install these to help keep your team safer.

2. Don’t modify your forklift yourself. Get help from the professionals.

We’ve seen forklifts with holes drilled into the overhead guard to mount accessories, but it can affect how the forklift performs and make it unsafe.

Tom Mitchell, Product Support Manager, says, “Don’t weld on it, don’t drill on it, don’t cut on it. If you do that, you’re compromising the safety of your forklift.” Many accessories can be installed with clamps, preventing structural damage to your forklift.

Besides adding accessories, if you change the attachment on your forklift, you’ll need a new data tag.

Tom said, “The point is: if you’re changing something on your forklift or hanging something on it, call your local dealer to make sure it’s wired in correctly and you’re not compromising on safety.”

If you need accessories added or attachments changed, call Hugg & Hall’s service team to get the job done correctly the first time.

3. Install proper lighting.

Safety starts with good lighting, on your forklift and in your warehouse!

On your forklift, you’ll need both forward-facing and rear-facing headlights.

You’ll also want to consider adding alarm lights so pedestrians (and other operators) can tell a forklift is coming in particularly loud environments. Blue lights on the front and back of your forklift will shine on the floor and create a visual barrier.

Movable dock lights are helpful as well. They can light up the dark interior of trailers.

4. Install gas detectors.

If you’re using non-electric forklifts in your warehouse, you’ll need to monitor the carbon monoxide levels. Petroleum forklifts are safer than gasoline or diesel engines, but they still pose a risk of CO2 poisoning.

Installing CO2 detectors is one of the easiest ways to keep your employees safe.

5. Keep up with maintenance.

Most forklifts need service very 250-300 hours, but that doesn’t mean you should skip a scheduled Preventative Maintenance session when you haven’t been using your forklift as much.

Some parts wear out gradually, while others break instantly. For instance, forks can wear thin with use. It may have been only been 50 hours since your last PM, but your forks could be damaged and are dangerous to anyone around that forklift. That’s something our PM techs will catch, preventing an accident before it happens.

Without getting regular PM, you’re not just risking wasting money on a major problem down the line that could have been caught earlier (though that’s obviously a concern). It also puts your employees at risk of driving a forklift that could have a critical or fatal error.

6. Keep your warehouse clean and free of debris.

When a worker hits a piece of debris, it does more than just damage to the forklift (though that’s a serious concern in and of itself). Hitting debris can cause a forklift to tip or lose part of the load it’s carrying, posing serious danger to the operator and any other people in the area.

Employers should conduct regular walk-throughs to identify obstructions and clutter.



Forklift Operator Safety Tips

1. Know your responsibilities.

As an operator, you have the responsibility to comply with all government regulations and company policies.

You’re the first line of defense for equipment defects. If you notice anything is wrong with a forklift, you’re responsible to report defects to your supervisor.

Need a brief refresher course on forklift operations? Check out this safety guide from OSHA or contact our training team.

2. Inspect before operating.

Being the best operator you can starts before you even get on the forklift.

Did you know that some of the most-knowledgeable and safest forklift operators still follow their warehouse’s inspection checklist?

If you quizzed these operators, they’d probably know every step of the checklist by heart. But they’ll still follow it, because it’s a failsafe. It keeps them from forgetting any important steps in the moment.

3. Use caution when loading and unloading.

Trailer creep is just one of the dangers you face when loading and unloading semis. Docks and ramps are uniquely dangerous. Follow these tips to avoid injury.

  • Never overload the forklift’s rated capacity.
  • Never overload the dock plate’s rated capacity (add the weight of the forklift and the load).
  • Properly secure dock plates.
  • Use fixed jacks to support a semi-trailer (if it is not coupled to the truck).
  • Ensure the semi-truck brakes are engaged and the wheels are chocked.

4. Don’t speed.

Forklifts take longer to stop than most people realize. That’s why the recommended speed around pedestrians is 3mph.

At 4mph, it takes 17 feet to come to a full stop. At 9mph, it takes at least 50 feet.

Your warehouse manager shouldn’t give you any productivity goals that would cause you to have to speed. Safety (of yourself, other operators, and pedestrians) is always more important than productivity goals.

5. Keep a clear line of sight.

Besides the fact that running over debris can damage a forklift, hitting a pedestrian or an obstacle could result in a workplace injury or death.

Avoid this by ensuring you can see around the load, checking your blind spots, and slowing down at intersections.

If your managers haven’t installed proximity lights that shine blue lights on the floor to warn oncoming traffic you’re approaching, you can request they install them.

6. Never walk under an elevated forklift.

Did you know that walking under a load is one of the most common ways injuries occur?

If you’re directly in front of the mast, operators may not be able to see you and could lower the load on your head. It’s also possible part of the load could fall on you.

Stay out of the danger zone and never walk under a load.

7. Don’t run over debris.

Debris can cause serious damage to forklifts. But it also places the operators at risk.

Your manager has the responsibility to ensure your warehouse is as accident-free as possible, but sometimes, debris happens in the middle of a shift.

Always be on the lookout for anything in your path.

If you do run over debris, stop and evaluate the damage to the forklift, and always inform your supervisor.

8. Know what to do in the event of a forklift tipping over.

One of the dangers of debris in your path is that it can cause your forklift to tip.

If you’re in a sit-down style forklift, stay in your seat, brace yourself (but keep your hands clear of anywhere the forklift could fall on them), and lean away from the point of impact to protect your head.
If you’re on a stand-up forklift, step back from the operator compartment and move as far away as possible.




Forklifts are powerful machines that should be respected.

It’s common to forget how dangerous a piece of machinery is when you work with it every day, but it’s vital to remember forklift safety tips.

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