Overlooked Safety Issues: Mounting and Dismounting a Forklift

Overlooked Safety Issues: Mounting and Dismounting a Forklift

A recent analysis of forklift injuries and incidents in the UK revealed a shocking statistic that may take you by surprise: up to 5% of all forklift-related injuries and accidents occur as an operator mounts or dismounts a lift truck. Given how frequently these simple actions take place, you’d think this wouldn’t be as big of a safety issue as the statistics show. However, since most operators enter and exit their unit multiple times per shift, it’s easy to become complacent and neglect some of the simple precautions that can reduce the risk of injury. As a result, let's review some easy to remember safety tips that will help reduce these entrance/exit injuries in the future.

For the 1st part of our Overlooked Forklift Safety Issues, check out our post on how to avoid the dangers of static electricity

Reduce The Risk of Slipping or Falling

As I mentioned above, most forklift operators mount and dismount their truck multiple times per shift so it’s easy to how they can become complacent and forget the risks associated with this behaviour. But there are definitely risks involved as making a mistake while entering or exiting a unit could result in a sprained ankle, broken bones, back injury or a concussion depending on the distance of the fall and where your body comes into contact with the forklift. Here are just a few situations where injuries have occurred as an operator got on or off of a lift truck:

  • An operator quickly steps or jumps off of a forklift leading to an awkward landing;
  • A piece of an operator’s clothing or overalls gets caught while dismounting;
  • An operator loses their footing on a slippery side step and falls face first into the side of the forklift while attempting to get in.

3 Contact Points Rule

From this short list of situational examples it should be clear that you don’t need extraordinary conditions for an injury to occur. These can be prevented with a few precautions but many operators do not take the care needed to prevent them. For example, the step on the side of the forklift is often one of the only things many operators use while mounting or dismounting a forklift. Yet these steps are small, particularly on smaller units, and tend to wear the most where regular contact occurs. This makes the step slippery where traction is needed the most and increases the risk of a slip and/or injury.

One way to avoid these kinds of injuries is to maintain 3 points of contact while entering or exiting a forklift. In addition to the small side step, operators should be trained to use the hand rail(s) or the seat as 2 other points of contact and to maintain them until they are seated in the forklift or are firmly on the ground. Want to encourage an overall culture of safety, similar habits and ensure all of your operators received the same high quality operator training? Enroll your operators in our on-site operator training course for corporate groups! We’ll bring the classroom to your business and train your operators at the same time to ensure each operator receives the same information and training as the next. Visit our forklift operator training page for more information or click below to book your spot today:

Best Practices

Beyond the 3 points of contact, here are some other best practices to follow while mounting or dismounting a forklift or lift truck:

  • Never attempt to enter or exit a forklift unless it is completely stationary;
  • Face the truck and watch where you place your hands and feet;
  • Always use the handgrips and steps installed on the forklift;
  • Pay attention to any additional hazards that may pose a risk such as mud, water, ice, etc;
  • Wear PPE including non-slip footwear and avoid loose or baggy clothing;
  • Get on and off the truck one foot at a time in a slow and controlled manner;
  • Never jump onto or off of a forklift. While operators may be tempted into making a quick exit with a jump, this increases the amount of force their body is subjected to upon hitting the ground and increases the possibility of a twisted ankle;
  • Allow yourself some extra time and pay more attention when getting on or off of a forklift in rain, snow, or icy conditions.

In Closing

As you can see, there are any number of ways that you can get injured while entering or exiting a forklift. To avoid a preventable injury and needless risk, we recommend that you follow the best practices we set out above and remain focused on the safety of you and your fellow employees. Also, we pointed out that one way to ensure the same level of safety and training across your entire organization is to utilize group training sessions, such as those offered at Lucas Liftruck. For more information or to book your group, contact us today!

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