Overturning or rollovers are the leading cause of fatal injuries in forklift safety related accidents; and in almost all of the cases, the driver is struck or crushed by the roof guard of the safety cage. Accident investigations conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) find that the single consistent identifiable characteristic in these accidents was that the driver was not wearing seat belts.

In comparison to an automobile, not using a seat belt in a forklift exposes the driver to a larger danger of injuries although forklifts move at speeds usually far lower than cars. The following is an explanation why this is so.

Forklifts that are largely used indoors, such as in warehouses, may very well look like large mechanical toys, but they are far from being so. In reality, even the smallest riding forklift is heavier than a small car or truck. Their center of gravity is also located higher. Moreover, forklifts steer by rotating their rear axle, which is usually mounted on a pin. While this mechanism allows forklifts to turn on the proverbial dime, it also reduces the effective equilibrium making it easy for a forklift to overturn. In other words, it is easy for a forklift to rollover.

During a rollover, the driver’s natural and instinctive reaction is to jump away from the falling forklift. But as we have seen, forklifts are machines with a high center of gravity and low stability. They are also heavy. Once a fork lift becomes unstable, it tends to come down extremely fast because of its heavy weight, small base of stability and high center of gravity. The bars of the safe cage also get in the way. Therefore, it is almost impossible for an operator to jump clear. They get caught by the guards of the safety cage and suffer severe injuries, which are often fatal.

The attempt to jump is the single largest cause of fatal injuries. Accidents by their nature are unpredictable. Forklift drivers should, therefore, without exception, wear their seat belts at all times.

Courtesy: Ur Health Safety