OHS Canada Magazine

Tips to stay safe on National Forklift Safety Day

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June 10, 2024
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety

Credit: Getty Images/bankrx

Did you know forklifts are involved in about 10 per cent of workplace fatalities and five per cent of serious workplace injuries each year?

What’s more, forklift-related incidents cost employers over $125 million every year in direct compensation costs, according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada.

To mark National Forklift Safety Day on June 11, OHS Canada spoke with Richard Sinclair, technical trainer at Hangcha Canada, for tips to keep everyone safe around forklifts.

Helping visitors stay safe

One of the biggest problems Sinclair sees is visitors stepping off their designated, marked routes through the work area and into the path of oncoming forklifts. “This is where most of the accidents are happening now: out of the pathway,” he notes.

For everyone’s safety, Sinclair recommends all visitors receive a short briefing before entering a worksite. In addition to guidelines for forklift safety, this briefing should cover information like where to find fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and emergency exits.


He also recommends every visitor – including management – be escorted at all times to ensure they remain aware of what’s happening around them and follow the guidelines put in place to help keep everyone safe.

Prioritizing staff safety

When asked to share some safety tips specific to forklift operators, Sinclair’s list comes rapid-fire. “Start wearing your seatbelts… Stop modifying the reverse alarms to turn them off. Really fill out your inspection report of your forklift – do a walk around and ensure everything works: no fault code, no leaks.”

And for employers? “Pay attention to your driver’s education.”

He also recommends staying up to date with new technology for safety devices. Many of the latest and greatest devices are tamper-proof, preventing operators from, say, turning off alarms or GPS technology. If the equipment is tampered with, it can send a signal to the foreman, site administration or another employee who can come investigate.

“There’s a reason we have this,” Sinclair says. “Safety systems are there to protect you. It’s not there to spy on you or get you into trouble. It’s there to protect your life.”

If in doubt, make eye contact

Technology certainly has an important role to play in keeping people safe. But there’s one no-tech, sure-fire way to ensure you’re seen whether you’re operating a forklift or on foot.

“Eye contact is very important… You make sure he sees you and you see him,” Sinclair advises.


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