Of the various types of heavy equipment, a forklift may seem like the safest to operate. After all, operators generally use them indoors, they are slow-moving and they are relatively compact. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, forklifts can be dangerous or even fatal. If a person operates a forklift in North Carolina, he or she should make him or herself aware of the dangers and how to avoid them.

Between 2011 and 2017, 614 individuals lost their lives in forklift accidents. That approximates to 100 forklift-related deaths per year. Every year, more than 7,000 nonfatal injuries occur as a result of forklift incidents. In 2017, 9,050 nonfatal workplace injuries involved forklifts. The median number of days workers missed because of said injuries was 13, which is higher than the median of eight for all other cases. The majority of cases — about 2,000 — involved non-roadway accidents.

EHS Today explains the most common forklift fowls and how operators can work to prevent them. The first is not knowing the machine’s load capacity. Carrying a load that is too heavy is a surefire way to tip it. Operators should always check the truck’s data plate before loading it.

Operating with an unsecured load is also a common yet dangerous mistake. Even if a shipment has an odd shape, an operator should take extra care to secure it correctly.

Operating without an intimate understanding of one’s route can also pose a hazard. This is particularly true in environments that are complex or overly dynamic. In addition to studying the course before driving, an operator should also clearly communicate with other workers to prevent pedestrian accidents, which, according to BLS, are the second leading cause of nonfatal forklift injuries.

A worker should never drive a forklift at excessive speeds or at speeds that are too high for the equipment and/or environment. He or she should also never misuse a forklift. Forklifts can be dangerous if not operated with care, so an operator should always resist the temptation to use the piece of equipment for anything other than its specified purpose.