I have been operating forklifts in warehouses for about 30 years, mostly as a supervisor or forklift training consultant and coach. My forklift training and consulting experience is extensive: with the results of my ten-year field study on “training interventions and their effect on serious injuries among 300 forklift operators”, I testified in Washington DC at the Hearing for the latest OSHA rule on Powered Industrial Truck Training. I am also the author of many forklift-related articles and presentations, and I have published a chapter on my signature forklift performance management system in an academic textbook. In addition, I currently operate a membership website that distributes forklift documents to trainers, managers, and lawyers. Because unloading a flatbed trailer safely requires more than just the forklift operator’s attention the safe procedures required will vary with the specific workplace environment. There are a few things singularly within the forklift operator’s purview, that should be done before attempting to unload, including the following:
- An examination of the forklift’s functional integrity, and lift capacity, such as that required by OSHA and ANSI rules.
- Chocking, blocking, or use of other means to prevent the trailer wheels from moving while it is being unloaded.
- Deciding the degree of “match” between the length and tapered thickness of the forks with the configuration of the load as it sits on the trailer.
- Examining the load-to-trailer method of stabilization. I have reviewed three similar cases, all of which involved a forklift operator who communicated with the delivery tractor operator prior to injuring them.