Forklift Injuries: Risks and Prevention

Forklifts cause thousands of injuries every year, many of them serious. The frequency and severity of such injuries in your workplace determine your workers’ compensation rates. The injuries cost your insurance carrier. Below are some risks for forklift injuries and mitigation measures to take.


Forklift accidents might not be that common, but they can cause devastating injuries. Below are some of the risk factors for forklift accidents and injuries.

Heavy Loads

Forklifts are notoriously heavy – they can weigh thousands of pounds. Apart from the intrinsic weight of forklifts, they also carry heavy loads. The combination means that even a low-speed forklift crash can have an enormous impact. In addition, a heavy load falling from a considerable height can cause serious injuries.

Front Brakes Only

Many forklifts models come with only front brakes. The lack of brakes on some of the wheels reduces the forklift’s braking efficiency. Reduced braking efficiency means, for example, that a forklift operator might struggle to stop a runaway forklift.

Uneven Weight Distribution

Two things cause uneven weight distribution on forklifts. First, forklifts have more weight on the back to compensate for their front loads. The heavy back means contributes to uneven weight whenever the forklift does not have any load.

Secondly, a typical forklift does not always carry the same weight. The different loads lead to uneven weight distribution since the weight at the forklift’s back is fixed. Uneven weight distribution interferes with the forklift’s handling and maneuverability.


Carrying loads at the front of the forklift can obstruct the operator’s view. The obstruction is even more likely with unnaturally large or oddly shaped loads. Obstructing the operator’s view increases the risk of crashing into other things.


Do not resign yourself to the risk of forklift accidents at your workplace. Take the following measures to keep your employees safe.

Train Your Employees

Provide ongoing training to your employees, especially the ones who directly deal with the forklifts. The things your training should include are: Operating forklifts

  • Forklift capacity
  • Safety precautions, such as sounding horns when approaching corners
  • Situational and environmental awareness

Conduct regular reviews of the training and its impact on your workplace safety.

Maintain Your Forklifts

Improper maintenance increases the risks of accidents. For example, the maintenance mechanics must ensure:

  • The forklifts don’t leak fluids since leakages can lead to hydraulic failure
  • The brakes are adequate
  • The horn is working
  • The tire pressure is adequate
  • The forks are not bent

Fix emerging issues promptly before they cause accidents.

Give Employees Breaks

Operator exhaustion increases the risk of injury both to the operator and to others in the forklift’s vicinity. For example, an exhausted operator might make judgment mistakes and cause an accident since exhaustion impairs judgment. Working long hours also increases the risk of over-exhaustion injuries or repetitive strain injuries.

Provide a Safe Work Environment

The environment also contributes to forklift safety. For example, a safe environment should:

  • Be well-lit
  • Be clear and well-organized
  • Be wide enough for the forklift’s maneuvers

Regular environmental assessment is necessary.

Provide Safety Equipment

Employees who work with or around the forklifts should have adequate safety equipment. For example, they should have:

  • Hard hats
  • Strong boots
  • Visible wear, such as reflective coats

Ensure all employees use their safety equipment and gear whenever they are at work.

Hopefully, your workplace will not experience frequent injuries, and you will not pay high rates for your workers’ compensation coverage. Contact Kenneth Rhodes & Associates Inc to help you buy workers’ compensation insurance. We have been in the industry for over 25 years and have a working relationship with multiple insurance companies.