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Forklift Safety: Tripping Hazards Beware

Filed under: Forklift Operators - Safety & Guides

A common source of injuries are tripping hazards, forklifts with their raised cabins, long tynes and cabin equipment present a number of trip hazards.

Tripping over or around a forklift can lead to serious injury or even death.

This blog outlines the most common trip hazards in a forklift; it also looks at safety measures that can be implemented to mitigate the hazards improving the overall safety for operators and those working in close vicinity to the forklift.

Hazard 1: Forklift Tynes and Attachments
One of the most obvious trip hazards are the tynes or attachments such as a carpet pole or a clamp connected to the forklift front of the unit.

Due to the size of the loads being lifted by the tynes or attachment they often protrude a large distance from the unit.

Tripping over tynes or an attachment can lead to serious or fatal injuries due to the potential to fall onto or into concrete floors and walls or the attachment itself.

To prevent tripping hazards around forklift tynes and attachment it is essential for the tynes to always be in the lowered position when the forklift is stationary.

When tynes are in the lowered position on the ground they are not at eye level added precautions can be taken by positioning safety cones at the tips of the tynes to clearly show employees working around the forklift where they end and to be aware.

tripping over forklift tynes

Hazard 2: Cabin Stairs
Another common tripping hazard on a forklift is the stairs to access the cabin.

The specific tripping hazard of stairs will vary across forklift models depending on their design.

Operators must be constantly aware of the height and location of the stairs, it is very easy to trip whilst distracted talking to a fellow employee by misplaced footing.

Operators also need to be aware of any obstructions that could cause their feet to become stuck or lose their balance.

There are a number of safety measures that can be installed to assist in preventing tripping on stairs including:

  • Grab rails installed at appropriate heights
  • Non-slip surfaces on the stairs

When entering or exiting the cabin operators should always use the three points of contact stance, where one foot should be down with each hand gripping a part of the forklift (grab rail or seat rail) to ensure maximum balance.

forklift 3 points of contact when entering and exiting

Hazard 3: Pedals
Operators should always familiarise themselves with the location of all the forklift pedals when entering and exiting the forklift, these include accelerator and brake pedals, especially as the majority of these are floor mounted.

Operators should enter and exit the cabin in a controlled manner to prevent them being tripped up or getting caught on any pedals.

Forklifts should always be turned off before exiting so in the event the operator trips or gets caught on the pedals there is no risk that the forklift may accelerate uncontrollably if the accelerator is accidentally decompressed.

forklift pedals tripping hazard

Hazard 4: Floorboards and Floor Installed Options
Cabin floor patterns vary based on the forklift model, operators should always familiarise themselves with the floor pattern when operator a new unit for the first time.

Damaged floorboards or boards where the tread has been worn off completely need to be replaced immediately by a properly installed replacement.

Often floor mounted accessories such as heaters/defrosters, stands; trays are installed in cabins, operators should again be aware of their locations to prevent tripping.

The afore mentioned hazards are four of the most common, as each forklift design is different operators should take a couple of minutes to familiarise themselves with the potential hazards of individual units.

With proper awareness the likelihood of tripping incidents can be kept to a minimum, thus ensuring operator and employee safety when working around forklifts.

Reference List

  1. A Handbook for Workplaces - Forklift Safety Reducing the Risk. (2006). 2nd ed. [ebook] Melbourne: Worksafe Victoria, pp.8-9. Available at: https://prod.wsvdigital.com.au/sites/default/files/2018-06/ISBN-Forklift-safety-reducing-the-risk-handbook-for-workplaces-2006-02.pdf [Accessed 15 Mar. 2019].
Published By: Paul Hinz

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