HR Management & Compliance

Are Your Workers Trained to Avoid These 6 Situations That Could Tip Their Forklifts?

Antonio Toro was preparing to move large bundles of steel at a flood control project. As he positioned his forklift, it tipped, pinning him. By the time emergency responders reached him, Toro was dead.
Forklifts are designed to lift and move heavy loads. The forklifts themselves must be heavy to prevent them from falling forward when the load is lifted. Forklifts also tend to be small and narrow to navigate tight workspaces.
Being small, narrow, and heavier than they look can be a recipe for tipping if workers are not careful.
Tip-over accidents are more likely in certain situations and circumstances. Train your workers to know their specific truck, terrain, and load, and to take precautions to prevent tip overs. Here are six situations that can lead to tip overs.
1. Inadequately secured loads. A load that is not secured can shift, tipping the lift. Workers must be trained:

  • Not to move the truck until the load is secure. The load-engaging device must be placed in a manner that securely holds or supports the load.
  • Not to tilt the load-engaging means forward while the forks are elevated, unless they are picking up a load. An elevated load also must not be tilted forward unless it’s being deposited.
  • How to use attachments. If the truck is equipped with attachments, special precautions may be required for securing loads and for operating the truck after the load has been removed.

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2. Overloaded forklifts. Loading a forklift beyond its rated capacity can cause the lift to tip. Train workers to never exceed the forklift’s rated capacity. The rated capacity of all industrial forklifts must be prominently displayed on the vehicle at all times, in a location where the operator can easily see it.
Besides observing the forklift’s rated capacity, operators should heed the rated capacity of the work surface (floor, ramp, dockplate, or other operating surface).
3. Poorly selected forklifts. Using the wrong truck for the terrain can cause a lift to tip. Train workers, for example, not to use a forklift designed for use on smooth concrete in areas with rough terrain.
4. Traveling or parking on a grade. A forklift is more likely to tip on a grade than on a flat surface. Train workers to understand that:

  • On grades greater than 10 percent, loaded trucks must be driven with the load upgrade, except for motorized hand and hand/rider trucks, which should be operated on all grades with the load downgrade.
  • On all grades, they should raise the load only as far as necessary to clear the road surface and should tilt the load-engaging means back if possible.
  • They should avoid turning on a grade.

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5. Alterations to the forklift. Alterations to a forklift can change the lift’s capacity and handling characteristics, including its susceptibility to tip over. Train workers not to make alterations to a truck that will:

  • Change the relative positions of the various parts from the manufacturer’s original positions;
  • Add parts not provided by the manufacturer;
  • Eliminate parts provided by the manufacturer; or
  • Add counterweighting, unless approved by the manufacturer.

6. Poorly marked aisles. Forklifts often tip or roll over the side of a ramp, dockplate, or loading dock.
Make sure markings are present and clearly visible at edges of loading docks and other areas where forklifts could roll off, along with other precautions such as guardrails and chains.
Operators must also take special care when moving from bright to dim light, which can blind them just long enough for them to miss visual cues.
In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll provide a 4-step forklift walkaround inspection that you can customize and train your operators to follow before every operation of a forklift.

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