Wearing a seatbelt when operating a forklift is the most important safety precaution that operators take. Seatbelts save lives and protect against injury every day. While it can be easy to forget to wear your seatbelt, remember that taking that extra second to click it into place can save you from harm.
In 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that an average of 85 annual deaths are reported as the result of forklift accidents. Wearing a seatbelt significantly lessens the chance of injury or death should an accident occur. That’s why OSHA can fine employers when seatbelts are not worn. It is the duty of the employer to ensure safe working environments
for their employees, and ensuring the use of proper safety equipment is part of that requirement.
Even when wearing a seatbelt, operators should be aware of some best practices that can keep them safe should accident occur.
- Operators must ignore their initial reaction to jump during a tip over, which can result in their being crushed by the lift. When operating a forklift with an installed seat and seatbelt, one must do everything possible to stay inside the confines of the overheard guard.
- Additional precautions should be taken to ensure increased stability for the operator. First, the operator should brace their upper body while keeping both hands in place on the forklift’s steering wheel. Simultaneously, they should stabilize their lower body by placing both feet flat on the floor and pressing downward.
- Note that many material handling products such as stand-up models do not have an installed seat and seat belt, and these have different principles of safe operation.
A safety standards compliance officer may cite an employer based on the General Duty Clause
when operators are observed not using the safety feature. In order to help employers monitor proper seatbelt usage in their facilities, Toyota offers optional orange forklift that can help managers quickly see that operators are taking this vital safety precaution. Check with your local Toyota dealer to learn more about their offering forklift operator safety training.
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