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Common Forklift Related Injuries: Including Preventative Measures

Filed under: Safety

A previous blog post from February 2017 showed statistical evidence that the number of serious forklift related injury claims has decreased annually from 2011-12 to its current lowest level in 2014-15.

This week’s blog looks at some common forklift related injuries and measures that can be implemented to further prevent or reduce the number of incidence of injuries occurring.

Reddon (2014) lists the following common forklift related injuries:

  • Being crushed by or falling from
  • Hitting pedestrians
  • Being struck by falling objects
  • Hitting debris whilst operational

Being Crushed


Fully loaded forklifts operate on principle of balance.

Counterbalance forklifts have large counterbalance at the rear to balance out loads being lifted by the tynes.

Without a counterbalance weight when loads heavier than what the unit is rated to lift are lifted units are at a significant higher risk of overturning and operators falling.

When a unit overturns the operator is at risk of being crushed if they fall out of the cabin, they can be crushed by the load or unit itself.

Reddon states that:
‘Operators being crushed is often due to them trying to jump out of the forklift as it overturns’

In the event a unit overturns, it is advised to stay in the cabin as the structure will provide some protection to operators, hold onto the steering wheel and brace for impact whilst leaning your body away from the impact zone.

A correctly installed and calibrated weight gauge can assist in the prevention of units overturning, operators are provided with an accurate weight of the load they are lifting and can tell if it exceeds the rated lifting capacity of the unit.

forklift injury stay in cabin in the event of an overturn to avoid serious injury

Hitting Pedestrians

Employees working in close proximity to forklifts can be seriously injured if they are hit by a moving unit.

Accidents of this nature often occur when an operator is driving with poor visibility and isn’t able to clearly see their surrounds.

To lower the risk of this happening, operators should always travel with loads positioned so they have an unobstructed view.

when operating a forklift always have a clear unobstructed view

Visual warnings such as safety lights attached to the forklift show pedestrians that the forklift is moving, providing them opportunity to ensure they are out of the way.

The best way to prevent pedestrian accidents is to have a traffic management plan, with clearly designated separate paths for forklifts and pedestrians to utilise.

Lowering the time pedestrians are using the same paths as forklifts will reduce the potential for them to be hit.

traffice management plans provide clear designated paths to keep forklifts and pedestrians separate during operations

Being Struck By Falling Objects

As previously mentioned an unbalanced forklift can result in the load falling off the tynes, due to either being incorrectly packed or pallet damage.

Depending on the lift height the load falls from, it has the potential to build up significant momentum that can result in serious injury or property damage below.

To prevent this from happening it is imperative that operator’s double check the load has been correctly packed on a suitable undamaged pallet.

This may result in the load needing to be repacked correctly or carefully transferred to a new more suitable pallet. 

ensure all loads are securely packed and balanced when lifting to prevent objects falling

Hitting Debris While Driving

Dirty floors with solid debris such as metal or wooden off-cuts pose another significant source of injury to both pedestrians and operators.

Forklifts can operate at significant speeds and if they were to run over or strike some debris that has been left on the floor this can be shot off in any direction potentially injuring unsuspecting operator or pedestrians.

It is imperative that areas where forklifts operate are kept clean and tidy at all times or forklift access is restricted to areas where debris is created to reduce the risk of debris becoming projectiles.

As well as the potential for debris to become projectiles there is high likelihood debris such as metal can puncture forklift tyres and cost companies added spare parts and servicing expenses.

keep areas clean to prevent debris becoming projectiles during operations

Adaptalift Hyster has always been driven by safety, from the shop floor through to management.

We instill this culture by offering you services and systems that greatly increase your level of forklift and materials handling safety.

If you’re interested about building a safer workplace click here.

To discuss any safety concerns you may have regarding your materials handling fleet or to discuss the supply and installation of any of the safety accessories mentioned in this blog contact Adaptalift on 13 22 54 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Reference List

  1. Reddon, T. (2014). 5 Most Common Forklift-Related Injuries and How to Avoid Them. [Blog] National Forklift Exchange Blog. Available at: http://www.nfe-lifts.com/5-most-common-forklift-related-injuries-and-how-to-avoid-them/ [Accessed 2 Feb. 2018].

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1 comments

Another concerning thing about forklift related accidents is how much money the company may lose. Damages of goods and medical bills for injured employees.

Jason Freeman
February 16, 2018 - 5:48 pm

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