Many warehouses depend on forklifts to move and carry products and to decrease the amount of heavy lifting that employees must do. However, while forklifts may ease the risk of some injuries, they can also bring new hazards into an employee’s daily work. What risks might workers experience while operating a forklift?
1. Vibration can lead to a variety of health concerns.
Forklifts often expose operators to vibration from mechanical components as well as movement over uneven surfaces. This vibration can not only cause motion sickness, headaches and other challenges in the short term, prolonged exposure can lead to lower back pain and various musculoskeletal disorders.
2. Repeated motions can lead to damage.
Forklift operators often need to perform the same actions over and over. These include operating the same levers, turning their head to check blind spots and sitting in the same position for hours during the workday. Over time, these repeated motions can put additional stress on those parts of the body and lead to repetitive strain injuries.
3. Rollovers can put forklift operators at significant risk.
If a forklift turns a corner too quickly or becomes unbalanced while it moves, it may tip over. These rollovers can not only endanger the people near the forklift, they can also put operators at risk for a variety of injuries including falls and severe crush injuries.
4. Fires and explosions may put drivers at risk of burns.
Overheated parking brakes, sparks caused by metal striking metal, the heat from a forklift’s exhaust and a variety of mechanical issues can all put operators at risk of a fire. These dangers are even more pronounced if you operate a forklift around flammable materials. Fire- and explosion-related forklift injuries impact between 3,500 and 4,000 workers per year according to recent statistics from the National Safety Council.
While forklift operators face a variety of risks in their daily work, it is possible for them to get the help they need if these risks lead to an injury or work-related condition. Workers’ compensation may offer injured workers financial support to offset the impact of a work-related injury.