Dangers of Forklifts - Protecting People and Property

Every year there are about 8,000 accidents involving forklift trucks (FLT) resulting in injury and deaths are not uncommon.

Even if people are not injured in a forklift accident there is often damage to buildings, equipment or to the forklift itself.

The majority of accidents occur due to poor driver training, badly laid out premises or inadequate FLT maintenance. There are however, certain procedures that if adhered to, can prevent the majority of forklift accidents.

Pedestrians should be prohibited from Forklift lanes where possible, or risks assessed and controlled by the use of signs or barriers which are clearly marked (black and yellow diagonal stripes).

Everybody who is to use a forklift should have adequate training with a recognized body such as RoSPA (Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents) and all pedestrians should wear high visibility clothing when entering an area where forklifts are operating.

Forklifts should be maintained regularly and audible and visual warnings such as reverse bleep or flashing lights should be used and drivers should wear seatbelts to prevent them from falling if the forklift tips over.

All Roadways and aisles should have sufficient width and overhead clearance (for loaded FLTs and for FLTs passing each other if necessary); road humps should be avoided; consideration could be given to a 1-way system if possible and adequate lighting is essential and loading bays etc should be clearly marked and where possible, fitted with barriers and warning devices such as mirrors should be used if barriers cannot be fitted.

Structural features such as columns or machinery should be identified, marked and protected (e.g. with impact barriers) and any delicate equipment such as computers should be protected.

By far the best way of protecting computers, printers and monitors is to use specialist industrial computer enclosures. Made from durable metals including food grade stainless steel, a decent enclosure should be able to withstand even the most ineffectual forklift driver, some are even bombproof! Many companies opt to store their IT in these enclosures even when the working environments are not particularly hostile, ensuring the protection of not only the expensive hardware but also valuable data.

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