Forklifts accidents are perhaps the most common in the material handling industry, and not without good reason. According to one estimate, there are as many as 860,000 forklifts operating in the United States alone during a year. They form the backbone of almost all material handling businesses, not just in our country, but all over the world. As such, it should come as no surprise to find out that there are over 100,000 forklift accidents each year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Of these 100,000 accidents each year, 36,000 are categorized as serious or fatal accidents and 64,000 as non-serious. Despite great efforts by the OSHA, businesses, and manufacturers of material handling equipment, accidents continue to occur due to negligence and/or unsafe practices. Though modern forklift designs, such as the one of Moffett piggyback forklifts, offer better and more sophisticated safety features to operators, yet they can only do so much.
In light of the increasing number of forklift accidents occurring in the United States, it is essential for fleet managers and operators to be well informed regarding safety protocols. Not only should they know how to prevent a forklift from tipping over, but the operators, in particular, must also be aware of what to do if a forklift tips over since they are the ones who will be in the driver’s cabin.
This article shall briefly discuss what the leading causes are for forklift tip over, how to prevent them from occurring and most importantly, what an operator should do in case of a tip over.
Why Forklifts Tip Over?
First, let us take a look at what causes forklifts to tip over. To understand this, we must first understand how forklifts stay upright. It is all to do with the center of gravity of the forklift. As long as the center of gravity remains within the triangle of stability and as close as possible to the ground then the forklift is unlikely to tip over.
The trouble starts when the center of gravity moves out of the triangle of stability or becomes raised. This usually happens when:
- A forklift is driven over an uneven or sloped surface.
- A forklift has a load raised high in the air.
- A forklift is carrying a load heavier than its recommended load capacity.
- A forklift takes a turn at a high speed, especially with a load.
- A forklift is driven over soft ground.
How to Prevent Forklift Tip Over?
Forklifts can be prevented from tipping over by ensuring that the combined center of gravity of the forklift and the load never leaves the triangle of stability. Though some forklifts offer better stability than others, such as Moffett forklifts, yet ultimately it is up to the operator to keep the forklift from tipping over.
To keep the forklift from tipping over, never overload the forklift and always keep the mast close to the ground. Moreover, Moffett forklifts have hydraulic stabilizers in front of the front wheels that can be lowered to increase stability. Experts such as Bobby Park and Truck Equipment can provide a comprehensive list of safety protocols for operators when you purchase forklifts from them. This can help enhance understanding of forklift safety and tip over prevention protocols.
What Should an Operator Do when Forklift Tips Over?
In case the forklift starts tipping over and the operator knows there is nothing they can do to stop it, they should know what to do to survive the crash.
Stay Inside the Driver’s Cabin!
This cannot be stressed enough. DO NOT try to jump out of the driver’s cabin when the forklift is tipping over. If you stay inside the driver’s cabin, you have more chances of walking away with nothing but a few scratches since the compartment is designed to provide a safety cage for drivers.
Trying to jump out of the cabin can increase chances of injury since you can get pinned under the weight of the forklift. Moreover, the load could fall on top of the operator as well if they try to escape the driver’s cabin.
Keep Your Limbs inside the Driver’s Cabin
The most common injuries during forklift accidents are those regarding limbs. This pertains to the last point of trying to escape the cabin during a tip over. It is advisable for the driver to hold him or herself into a bracing position with hands over their heads and try to make your body as small as possible.
Wear the Seatbelt
Though some operators may be confused about this point, yet it is a tried and tested method of surviving a forklift tip over. Keeping your seatbelt fastened is essential in order to survive the tip over since it keeps you from being thrown clear of the forklift.
These were just some of the basic guidelines for operators to follow in case of a forklift tip over. They can maximize your chances of walking away from the wreckage without an injury.