In this current season in which COVID-19 has forced many employees to remain home because of infection or layoffs, safety cannot be compromised when it comes to the operation of forklifts in warehouses and other industrial settings. There are a couple of important keys to safe forklift operation which helps prevent injuries on-the-job – training and maintenance. We discuss these below.

Forklift operator training

According to the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA), the implementation of proper training and related policies could prevent 70% of all forklift accidents. Operating a forklift is not quite the same as driving a motor vehicle on the road. There are distinct differences in the operation of both and the skills required to safely do so. There are also various types of forklifts categorized into different classes that are designed for particular applications and environments.

OSHA regulations require employers to properly train and evaluate forklift operators. This training usually starts in the classroom where the trainee learns the fundamentals and principles of operating and maintaining a forklift. The training received is specific to the type of forklift the operator will be certified to operate.

Once the operator undergoes educational training, he or she will then engage in practical/hands-on operation with the forklift in a safe environment. This is where the trainee will practice the skills necessary to complete future on-the-job tasks.

OSHA requires retraining for operators – once every three years at a minimum – who have operated in the field for a long time. Retraining refresher courses are beneficial for these operators due to the fact that required skill sets are changing as technology advances.

Service technicians also need proper training in both the operation and technical aspects of a forklift in order to properly troubleshoot, diagnose, and repair these vehicles.

Proper forklift maintenance

Before a forklift goes into operation each day, OSHA requires an inspection of the forklift. Each operator should have access to a complete inspection checklist prior to the start of a shift. Operators need to report safety concern immediately so the forklift can be inspected and repaired as needed before it is placed into service. If a safety concern is discovered during a shift, the forklift should be taken out of operation immediately and inspected and repaired as required.

Beyond daily inspection checklists, routine maintenance programs are necessary to ensure the continual safe operation of forklifts. Operators and pedestrians can sustain serious injuries if critical forklift equipment and systems malfunction, such as brakes or hydraulics. If an employee is injured as a result, he or she may have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Implementing scheduled preventive maintenance involves conducting checks on steering, brakes, emergency shutoff features, in addition to checking filters and oil, etc.

In this era of COVID-19 it is even more critical to only allow trained and certified operators and technicians to interact with, operate, check, and repair forklifts. The safety of operators and other persons in the vicinity of these vehicles when they are operating is at stake.

At Mezrano Law Firm, we understand the difficulties workers face when injured on-the-job. We are here to help you access the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed under the law. To set up a free consultation with an Alabama workers’ compensation attorney from our team, please call us today at 205.206.6300 or fill out our contact form and send us a message. We have law offices in Birmingham, Gadsden, Florence, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, and Montgomery to serve your legal needs.