Forklift Safety: Load Securement

Posted on March 11, 2022

CBS covered an accident that took place in a Minnesota Menard’s store that resulted in the tragic death of the 19-year-old worker, James Stanback. He had only been working there for about a month. He had been operating a forklift, and the pallet of lumber fell, pinning him under the forklift.

The Menards was fined for $25,000 following his death. On Jan 5, 2022, they received a citation for violating rules on secured storage. Unfortunately, with the proper training, his death could have been prevented.

Forklift Securement

The most common causes of forklift overturns are:

  • Unstable loads
  • Improper loading and unloading
  • Operating the forklift at high speeds.

According to OSHA, forklift overturns are among the top causes of forklift accidents. How can we prevent more overturns and fatalities?

Loading and Securement

There are a few steps to take when loading a load onto a forklift to ensure that it is stable and not going to fall or cause an overturn.

  • Secure the load to the frame, not the forks, this ensures stability by balancing or shifting the weight.
  • Make sure that the forks are completely under the load before lifting. Lifting before its secure will cause the forklift to fall.
  • Remember to adjust the forks to the proper width for the load you are carrying. Too narrow will cause the load to fall over and too wide will cause it to fall through.
  • It’s a smart idea to lift the load a couple inches off the ground before moving. This will allow you to test if the load is secure and stable before moving.
  • A spotter should be there guiding you, especially if the load is blocking your line of sight (travel in reverse if this is your situation)
  • Once the load is secured and stable, travel slowly as to not cause an imbalance. Keep the forks 6-10 inches above the ground to avoid potential ground hazards.

Unloading and Stability

There are also specificalities when it comes to unloading. Remember that any imbalance or shifting of weight can cause the forklift to overturn.

  • Slowly turn the forklift to be in position.
  • Raise and position the load to the correct height, which is about two inches above placement point.
  • Allow for 2-3 inches of clearance at the sides and back of the load, and then slowly move the load into position
  • Tilt the load forward and then begin to lower it, level the forks, and then pull them back slowly.

For more information on proper load securement, please visit our Hard Hat Training Series. We have many similar informative courses such as; Cargo Load Securement Training for Flatbeds or Forklift Accidents: Causes and Safety Tips.