Posted on: February 22, 2024

Forklift Safety: Hazards & Prevention

Forklift Safety: Hazards & Prevention

In warehouses, construction sites, and manufacturing facilities, heavy machinery, like forklifts, are important tools used to move heavy materials more efficiently. Before you ever get into the driver's seat of one of these machines, you must first obtain the necessary training to understand the hazards and prevention methods associated with the work. Continue reading to learn more about the on-the-job hazards forklift drivers face and their solutions.

Forklift Safety Hazards

Forklifts come in various models and types, with operating risks varying based on their make and model. Workplace conditions and surroundings can influence these risks, such as maintaining pedestrian safety in retail locations and causing injuries from unintentional forklift or lift truck accidents.  

Adequate training significantly reduces accidents, while inadequate training can lead to electrocution, falls, amputations, and deaths. OSHA estimates between 35,000 to 62,000 forklift-related injuries annually, with 75 to 100 worker fatalities, or 87 on average.

Top Forklift Hazards and Solutions

When using a forklift or training others, it's important to recognize and limit potential hazards such as:

Blind Spots

Pedestrians and other ground workers are at major risk from forklift blind areas. To avoid any incidents, make sure pedestrians are aware of a forklift's blind spots and limit traffic while the forklift is in use. You should also ensure that the forklift operator is capable of driving backward to avoid any obstructions.

Unsecured Loads

Weight limits and accessories on forklifts ensure your safety and stability, but only when properly used. Unsecured objects can lead to falls and serious injuries. Everyone on the team should understand how to use straps to secure a load. Also, be sure that your crew understands the forklift’s weight limit.

Improper Operation

Although OSHA requires forklift training, misuse can happen. This creates unnecessary hazards to others and potentially causes severe accidents such as collisions or tip-overs. To stop this before it ever happens, make sure everyone on your team is up to date on their OSHA-compliant training. Anyone using the machinery should have a certificate stating that they understand how to operate it.

Poor and Improper Maintenance

Forklift maintenance is essential to avoid hazards such as worn forks, faulty lights, alarms, or broken chains. Always inspect your forklift after use and perform tests and assessments to verify adequate maintenance. If any problems are discovered, stop using the forklift until the problem is solved.


If pedestrians are unaware they are in a construction zone, they may cause accidents. To avoid any potential hazards, maintain safety tape markings for non-essential staff and clearly mark forklift access points with direct indicators.


Forklift seat belts are intended to protect operators from being crushed in the event of a tip-over. Maintaining seatbelts is critical to avoiding potentially fatal accidents if they get worn or loose. Make sure the seat belts are tight enough to keep the operator securely belted in at all times.

Overhead Obstructions

If there are any low ceilings or low-hanging objects hanging where you are working, these pose a risk to forklift operators. Low-hanging objects might clash with the forklift’s load, or low ceilings may cause the vehicle not to fit. To solve this problem, mark the areas where the forklift can and cannot go and mark the height of any lower ceilings for the operator.

Floor Conditions

Uneven flooring or other improperly paved areas may cause forklift damage. Surfaces that are wet, slippery, or covered with debris also make forklift maneuvering difficult. Make sure the floors are clean before allowing any moving machines to start driving. Housekeeping is critical to ensuring maximum safety.

PPE for Forklift Operators

OSHA mandates employers to provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to forklift operators. The PPE that is most commonly used at workplaces with forklifts are:

  • Hard Hats - Forklift operators face hazards like falling objects and collisions, but tip-overs are the leading cause of death. Wearing a hard hat can prevent head injuries and damage from falling loads.
  • Reflective Vests - Reflective vests are essential PPE since they provide visibility and prevent accidents. Their bright colors make it easier to stay aware of your location.
  • Safety Gloves - Forklift maintenance is crucial for safety, and gloves are essential when handling batteries, as sulfuric acid in batteries can cause chemical burns if contact occurs with the skin.
  • Safety-Toed Footwear - Steel-toed, safety-toed shoes are crucial for operating forklifts as well as handling and maintaining forklift batteries, as they prevent injuries and protect feet from sulfuric acid.

Proper PPE is essential for operating, working in, and maintaining forklifts, as it protects against workplace hazards associated with forklifts.

Get Started on Forklift Training

Being able to recognize hazards and how to prevent them is essential for any forklift driver. A forklift certification course should be completed by all forklift drivers to help reduce workplace accidents and deaths. offers a variety of forklift certification and heavy equipment training courses. Head to our website to enroll today!

Stand Up Forklift - Operator Safety Course Online