Ways to Avoid Forklift Accidents

Forklifts are an essential piece of equipment in many workplaces, including warehouses, distribution centers and even large retail stores. Unfortunately, accidents involving forklifts are more common than you probably think, injuring as many as 95,000 worker’s every year. Around 100 incidents involving forklifts each year are fatal, normally caused by a forklift tipping over.

Workplace accidents are a huge concern for both employees and employers. The types of injuries sustained can range from fairly mild to ones that cause permanent disability or even death. Worker’s may find themselves requiring extensive medical treatment and prescription medications, rehabilitative services and specialist equipment. They may also not be able to return to work for weeks, months or even years, due to the injury that they have sustained. If an employee suffers a workplace accident that they can prove was caused by the negligence of their company or a third party, they may be entitled to financial compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial damages they have incurred.

No-one wants to be injured at work, and every employer wants to ensure that the work environment they are responsible for is as safe as possible. Therefore, it is essential to take proactive steps to find ways to avoid potential hazards in the workplace, including forklift accidents.

Most common causes of workplace forklift accidents

The easiest way to address forklift accidents is to first recognize when, where, and why they are most likely to happen. These tend to fall into four categories, as follows.


  • Using excessive speed

  • Improper technique used for backing up

  • Improper technique used for accelerating, breaking or turning

  • Riding with the load elevated

  • Improper warning notifications

  • Riding on the forks

  • Stunt driving / using the forklift in an unsafe manner

Workplace environment

  • Cluttered aisles

  • Obstructions at doors and intersections

  • Excessive noise levels

  • Poor lighting

  • High volume of traffic in the work area

  • Working and walking in the same area

  • High grade ramps and multiple surfaces


  • Pallets that are poorly stacked

  • Pallets that are damaged or in need of repair

  • Leaks in the hydraulic system

  • Brakes, steering or transmission malfunction

  • Load that is too heavy or unstable


  • Being rushed to complete work in an unreasonable time frame

  • Poor maintenance of the forklift

  • Lack of safety equipment

  • Failure to provide adequate training

Ways to prevent forklift accidents

There are a number of things that you can do to help prevent forklift accidents.

Knowledge and training on forklift safety

By far the biggest way to avoid forklift accidents is to ensure that you provide or receive adequate training on how to use one. If you are an employer, it is your responsibility to give any workers who need to use a forklift enough training so that they can do so safely. It is also useful to make other workers who may not necessarily need to use a forklift themselves, aware of hazards associated with them.

If you are an employee, regardless of whether you have had training or not, you still need to make sure you that you feel confident to use a forklift safely. If you feel that you need a refresher course in how to operate one, or more detailed training, you should seek this before agreeing to working with a forklift.

Make time for a slowed work environment

Even the most competent and experienced forklift driver can make mistakes if they are under pressure. Many workplaces are very focused on efficiency and time, and this can cause some workers to rush. It is important to strike a balance between speed and safety, and by giving yourself or your workers enough time to maneuver and park their forklift each day, you can reduce the likelihood of an accident occurring.

Make safety a priority in the work place

When you have been working somewhere for a while, it can become easy to ignore safety protocols, often in favor of a faster or ‘better’ way of doing things. However, it is often when we take these safety rules for granted or fail to invest time and effort into them that accidents occur.

If you are an employer, you should make time to do a thorough audit of your health and safety policies, and check that you are doing everything you can to make sure your work environment is a safe one. This could include addressing lighting, safety barriers, safety mirrors and workwear, as well as procedures for performing tasks.

If you have been involved in a forklift accident and have suffered physical, psychological or financial trauma as a result of your injuries, you could be entitled to compensation. Our friendly and professional team has extensive experience in a variety of personal injury claims, including those for worker’s compensation. To discuss your case in confidentiality, please contact our office today at 305-442-7375.