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10 tips for safe operation of a forklift in California

Several hazards exist on California construction sites, and among them are forklifts.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has estimated that each year, there are 62,000 nonserious injuries and 35,000 serious injuries related to the operation of forklifts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 96 American workers were killed in forklift-related accidents in 2015, the most recent statistics available.

If you are charged with operating a forklift, here are some things to remember when it comes to operating a forklift safely:

  1. Know the load capacity of the forklift. Too heavy of a load can make the forklift unstable. Talk to your supervisor before operating if you believe the load is unsafe.
  2. Know your route by being familiar with any obstacles you might encounter. The items on a work site can change daily, and you must make sure your path is clear.
  3. Loads can be unsecure if the shape of what you are moving is unusual. Take care when you move objects that could fall.
  4. Communicate with co-workers. Let your colleagues know where you will be moving the forklift.
  5. Make sure you are wearing proper footwear because slipping while entering or exiting the forklift is possible.
  6. Is the battery adequately charged and is there an appropriate amount of hydraulic fluids? If not, you can't finish your task, and stopping midway could be dangerous.
  7. Be sure the forklift has undergone a recent maintenance inspection.
  8. Move at an appropriate speed and follow any speed limits.
  9. Park correctly and in a safe location. Lower the forks to the floor, set the controls to neutral, set the parking brake and turn it off. Remember to lower the fork to the floor, set the direction controls to neutral, lower the parking brake and turn the ignition off.
  10. Don't use the forklift for anything other than its designated purpose.

A forklift operator can follow all of these safety steps but still be injured because of faulty equipment or a negligent act of another person on the job site. Anyone suffering an injury could consult with an attorney who has experience with construction accidents to learn how to recoup the costs of medical expenses, time off the job and more.

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