Causes of Forklift Accidents Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

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I recently wrote a blog post about the most common causes of forklift accidents.  I used personal observation and some information readily available on the Internet to compile that article.

I was still curious about the causes of forklifts accidents though, and I wanted to hear about other people’s observations and experience.  So I started a discussion on Linkedin in the Warehouse and Distribution Management group (25,685 members) and got some great responses.  If you would like to join the discussion, you can do so here: forklift accidents.

Within 7 days, the discussion has received 47 comments from folks that have been around forklifts for years and know what they are talking about.  I was really amazed at how in-depth many of the responses are.  And the first-hand accounts are priceless.

I read through all of the comments so far and categorized them.  Many of the comments fell into a couple different categories, so my count won’t add up to 47.  Here are the recurring themes gleaned from the discussion.

Training – 12 comments discussed a lack of proper training.

Poor training and lack of commitment to Safety First. In many companies Management’s priority is production not a safe work environment; they miss the point of how the two are so interdependent.” – Valerio S.

Operator Awareness – 11 comments discussed lack of operator awareness.  Reasons provided for a lack of awareness include fatigue, distractions such as cell phones, and a bad attitude.

“As a Maintenance Manager and part of the Safety Team I am usually involved with accident investigation. Throughout my career there is one constant with every accident and that comes down to operator error.” – Roger S.

Commitment to Safety – 9 comments say there is a lack of commitment to safety from managers and forklift operators.

“I feel that it is not only the driver who creates a safe environment, it’s the entire team and an effective, overall Safety Program sponsored by Top Management, and taken very seriously by all concerned.” – Chuck I.

Warehouse Design – 7 comments blame poor warehouse design on forklift accidents.

“Given that in 70% of fatalities the deceased in not the forklift operator, a lack of separation between forklift drivers and pedestrians has to be a major contributing factor.” – Graham S.

Speed – 7 comments blame excessive speed.

“Where I used to work, the health and safety committee decided that the forklifts and pallet trucks were travelling too fast and decided to get the electricians to modify the equipment (slow down) without compromising the integrity of the equipment. By doing so, accidents were reduced.” – Thomas S.

Lighting – 5 comments mentioned poor lighting as a cause for accidents.

“In our experience, the implementation of high quality (in our case LED) lighting systems, with consistent, improved lumen output has a remarkable effect on morale, productivity and, potentially, safety.” – Dale B.

Forklift Condition – 3 comments discussed forklift condition and disrepair.

“Lack of preventative maintenance on forklift can also contribute to accidents. I’ve seen this first hand in unloading a 40′ ocean going container.” – Chuck I.

A big “thank you” to all of the contributors to the Linkedin discussion.  Sharing information about our personal experiences, observations, and data really help to make our industry safer and more productive.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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