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New to operating a forklift? Take these precautions to stay safe

Forklifts have become essential pieces of equipment in the construction, industrial and manufacturing industries in Pennsylvania. However, many employers fail to recognize the dangers these machines pose -- to not only the operators but also pedestrian workers who share the same workspace. Forklift accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and they can cause emotional and physical trauma to many.

Have you recently started a job in which you must operate a forklift? Even if your employer puts you straight to work, you might be smart to prepare yourself for the responsibility of keeping yourself, your co-workers and your employer's property safe from harm or damage.

Safety precautions you can take

Although forklifts pose many hazards, you can take the following precautions to prevent accidents:

  • Compliance: Keep in mind that rules and regulations typically exist because of previous incidents. Even if it seems senseless to you, always comply with the company's safety protocols.
  • Qualification: Only qualified, licensed operators must get behind the controls of forklifts. However, a qualification on paper will not make you an expert, and only practice can turn you into a skilled operator.
  • Daily inspections: Inspect your forklift before the start of each shift, and take it out of service for repairs if you identify any malfunctions or defects to prevent accidents.
  • Avoid overloading: Each forklift has a specific load capacity for a reason. An overloaded forklift is a deadly weapon, and even if someone else loaded the machine for you, ensure the load is within the allowed weight before you get behind the controls.
  • Know your environment: Each environment is unique, and you must assess it to make sure you are familiar with potential hazards. These could include pedestrians, narrow aisles, sharp corners, random objects in your path and the hazardous weather conditions if you work outdoors.
  • Keep a clear line of sight: Keep the fork at a level that will not obscure your view of the path you must travel, and make sure ground level workers are aware of your approach.

Taking these precautions might turn you into a responsible and efficient forklift operator in no time. However, one last thing to remember is to never use your machine as part of horseplay. There are always those who cannot wait to play around on forklifts -- often with devastating consequences.

What if you are injured?

There is no shortage in workers' compensation claims involving forklifts. If you should be the victim of a tip-over or a struck-by accident on the job, you might be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. A Pennsylvania attorney with experience in dealing with the state-regulated insurance system can assist with the process to claim benefits, which typically cover medical expenses and lost wages. If you suffered a debilitating injury, you might receive additional benefits.

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