We get on and off forklifts so often in our jobs that it’s easy to get complacent about doing so. But care must be taken, as slips and falls are common.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), forklift trucks (FLT) account for approximately 25% of work-based transport accidents in the UK.
Before operating a forklift, the minimum basic training is required. To help give you a brief guide to forklift safety, outside of your formal training, we outline the best practice for mounting and dismounting a FLT:
The first rule that should form part of any basic forklift training is maintaining three points of contact when entering or exiting a truck. This means you should keep either one hand and two feet, or two hands and one foot on the truck at all times, until you’re either in your seat or standing firmly on the ground. The steering wheel must not be used as a point of contact as it can move, causing loss of balance.
Tip: check your safety footwear - the most wear occurs at the spot where the boot rotates over the step’s edge, meaning it’s slippier where there’s the greatest demand for grip. And don’t forget to take extra care in adverse weather conditions, when working in uncovered outdoor spaces. Read our advice on safety work boots and shoes to find out more about safety footwear at work.
Falls from jumping can cause broken bones but, worse than that, you can put yourself suddenly and unexpectedly in the path of another vehicle. By getting off the truck safely, as mentioned above, you can better protect yourself and others around you. Keeping three points of contact, means you can pull yourself up and into the cab away from the danger if you need to.
You might be tempted to access the controls from outside the truck, but that’s just too dangerous!
To operate the controls from outside of the truck, you have to stand outside of the protection given by the cab, with the mast operating next to you - meaning you could get hit by the load, or drawn into the moving parts of the mast. Plus, of course, you won’t be able to see things as well as you would if you are in the cab. Best practice is to only operate the controls when you’re seated in the cab, and keep others away from the lift truck.
This can be caused by controls becoming caught on the sleeves of clothing, or by leaning over to reach for something. But, the most common cause of unintended operation is exiting the lift truck incorrectly, on the wrong side.
Keeping inside the truck during operation will dramatically reduce the risk of an accident.
You should never lean or reach outside of the cab, as this puts you at risk of contact with passing obstructions or vehicles. Rather than reaching out to access something, you should stop the truck in a suitable place, make it safe, dismount and then access it on foot.
Tip: if the load is obstructing your view, and you’re tempted to lean out of the cab to see in front, try driving in reverse - this will give you a clear view of your route and any upcoming hazards.
Watch the below video to show you the best practice for mounting and dismounting a FLT.
For further help and guidance, HSE have produced a guide outlining the main legal requirements for operating a FLT, which can be found here.
With safety in the workplace firmly in our minds, you can ensure you’re fully equipped with the latest PPE workwear, and stay visible on site with hi-vis clothing. You can also keep people entering your worksite safe too with our safety signs.