To improve forklift safety, train material handlers

Date Posted: 01/10/2022

improve forklift safety, train material handlersForklift operators should not carry unstable loads, but someone other than the operator typically stacks or arranges the loads. Usually, other workers stack items on pallets, and those material handlers play a significant role in forklift safety.

Numerous problems could result from rushing a job, or simply a lack of understanding the potential consequences during transport, but every problem has a solution.



Stacking bags or boxes on a pallet haphazardly or unevenly, creating instability that could get worse if the forklift carries the load over bumps (like dock plates) or rough ground (outdoors). Training on how stacked items can shift during transport, on stacking items carefully, and/or wrapping the load in plastic for better stability.
Stacking items on broken or damaged pallets, or pallets with broken slats. Missing or damaged slats could allow product to fall through where the forklift tines insert, causing product damage when picking up the load. Provide acceptable and readily-available replacement pallets, and remove damaged pallets for repair or replacement. Deliver training on the type of damage that requires removing a pallet from use. Consider damage affecting the ability to stack pallets in tiers.
Stacking items too high (whether on pallets or otherwise) contributes to instability (especially heavier items) or may exceed the forklift backrest height. Loose items should not extend above the forklift backrest. Provide a measuring stick or similar item to limit the height of stacked materials.

Naturally, forklift operators must recognize and refuse to handle unstable loads. In addition, operators must avoid actions that could damage pallets such as split forking or bulldozing.Other issues that may not directly affect safety but increase the risk of product damage include things like stacking items beyond the edges of the pallet, or allowing boxes or bags to overhang the pallet. This could result in damage during handling, and the added dimensions could prevent the load from fitting in a space such as two pallets side by side in a semi-trailer.

However, anyone stacking the material bears some responsibility for load security. Although stacking items on a pallet might appear simple, material handlers need to understand the potential consequences of using damaged pallets or improperly loading a pallet.

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How Safety Management Suite Can Help

Self-paced online safety training

OSHA doesn’t require employers to provide training on material handling, but a number of problems could be avoided with proper training. The Training area of the J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE can help, with topics on ergonomics, safe lifting, and many other topics. This tool can help you deliver training with online courses, classroom materials, and many other assets.


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