6 Steps To Head Off Forklift Overturns

Forklift overturns are the leading cause of forklift deaths in the U.S. Hear about six simple ways to dodge overturns by respecting location and equipment.

A forklift is a short, squatty vehicle that gets cranky on corners. In this podcast, Dan Clark explains how to keep a forklift upright in rough terrain, slopes and more.

Dan also describes what to do if you ARE in a forklift overturn.

Telescoping boom forklift tragedy in Iowa. (Image by NIOSH)


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Dan Clark: Forklift and other powered industrial truck safety violations make OSHA’s top 10 list every year. One type of forklift safety issue is the leading cause of forklift related deaths: overturns. Learn how to prevent forklift overturns and how to hold on if one happens.

Hi, I’m Dan Clark with The Safety Brief. We take on health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10 percent off your entire order at creativesafetysupply.com with coupon code BIG10.


— Turning, stopping or pushing the go pedal too quickly.

— Driving on an incline.

— An unbalanced load, driving with a load too high or a load too heavy for the equipment.

— Uneven surfaces and wet surfaces.


Let me give you six steps to head them off:

1. Follow the speed guidelines from the employer or the vehicle’s manufacturer.

2. Never raise or lower the load while you’re moving.

3. Don’t stop suddenly.

4. Take turns carefully.

5. When moving up or down a slope, go slowly and only move straight up or down, not at an angle.

6. Keep the load low to the ground. Only raise the load as much as you need to clear the floor surface.


Wear seat belts and other restraints. Since 1992, new sit-down forklifts are required to have seat belts. And you can retrofit older models.


Now, I remember this from my first day driving a forklift at a plywood plant, and it’s great advice. The foreman told me “Make sure to stay in the operators compartment if something falls or the forklift overturns.” Now this goes against your brain, which says “Get out of harms way.” But the overhead guard will protect you.

Get a good grip on the vehicle and lean in the opposite direction of the overturn. See, the overhead guard is usually the part that crushes the operator’s head or body when he or she jumps or falls out of the operators compartment. Do your best to stay inside.

In a stand-up forklift, get away by stepping backward out of the vehicle if the tip over is a lateral one.

These procedures are endorsed by NIOSH.

That’s all for this episode, 6 Steps To Head Off Forklift Overturns. Join me again for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s always-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10 percent off your entire order at creativesafetysupply.com with coupon code BIG10.


Forklift illustration by Thom Cheney © ℗ 2015 Creative Safety Supply, LLC, 7737 SW Cirrus Dr., Beaverton, Oregon 97008. All Rights Reserved; chemical plant background images by PEO ACWA, public domain; telescoping boom forklift image by NIOSH

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