On average 100 people lose their lives each year working on, or around forklifts, and almost half of those casualties result from forklift tip-over accidents. Engineering, accident statistics, eye-witness, and first-hand accounts tell us that if an operator stays inside the overhead guard area in the seat of the forklift, the operator’s chance of survival increases.
Forklift Seat Belt
The sole purpose of the forklift seat belt is not for front-end collisions. Instead, it it there to keep you in the seat in case of tip-over.
Normal human behavior says “jump” when the forklift starts to tip. In that split second needed to make a decision, two things motivate you in the wrong direction. First, momentum is throwing you to the low side of the machine (direction of tip). Secondly, in your mind, ground means safety, and the ground is closest on the low side (direction of tip). The problem is you can’t get away from the machine fast enough, and the overhead guard crushes you at the head, neck, shoulders, or chest.
Humans have another peculiar habit; as the machine tips, we stick our arms and legs out toward the direction of the tip as if to magically stop the 9,000 lb forklift from tipping over. During a forklift tip-over, you need to keep your hands and feet inside the confines of the forklift and overhead guard.
Surviving a Forklift Tip-Over
- Put on the seat belt every time you operate a forklift. Adjust the seat belt to tighten as needed.
- Push hard against the steering wheel and brace your feet firmly into the floorboard, which will firmly plant you in the seat.
- Place both hands on the steering wheel, lean forward, and use the steering wheel as upper body support.
- Always lean away from the point of impact. For example, if the forklift is tipping left, lean right.
Help your forklift operators keep safety awareness strong! ProLift offers a variety of safety training classes for operators and in-house trainers. Contact our safety specialist to schedule your class.