A successful and efficient warehouse relies on many factors. Good planning, for example, and hiring and retaining competent and motivated staff. Arguably the most important tool in a warehouse environment is the forklift truck, which enables a single individual to move heavy materials that he/she would otherwise not be able to.

To put into context how widely they are used and their value to warehouses, in 2013 the top 20 forklift truck suppliers posted combined revenues in excess of $30 billion. They are, essentially, indispensable for warehouse operators, but their usage doesn’t come free of risk. Too often there are reports of accidents where an unfortunate employee has been injured or died in an incident involving a forklift truck.

So why, when the risk and potential for injury is well known, do these incidents continue to occur? Although the forklift truck itself may carry no risk, if operated incorrectly or in a dangerous manner then warehouse safety is jeopardised and the potential for harm increases significantly.

One of the most common reasons for accidents is forklift driver complacency. Due to the repetitive nature of forklift tasks, forklift drivers can mistakenly assume the environment around them is still safe when it’s not. In some warehouse environments safety systems are installed to protect employees in this scenario, however in many cases these systems are not effective. This often leads to a culture of drivers expecting safety systems to prevent accidents, which breeds further complacency (for more information on this issue, please read our recent blog, ‘Are proximity sensors effective for ensuring warehouse safety?’).

Although training is a key component in preventing accidents, even the best training programmes can’t eliminate risk completely. So, with the safety of workers, the potential for compensation and productivity targets to consider, it is in the best interests of warehouse operators to install and operate an effective system for managing warehouse safety.

Download our Warehouse Safety guide today to find out more on how to prevent accidents.