Forklift Injuries – How They Occur and How to Avoid Them.

Forklift lifting pallets.

They may look like a good way to cheat walking up the stairs, but forklifts are dangerous. Even in experienced hands, a forklift can cause serious injuries. Both to the driver and those around the lifting equipment.

When around these machines, it’s important to be aware of the danger they present. So, here’s a list of 5 injuries and how to prevent them.

Operator Injuries.


No matter if you’re a novice or professional when It comes to operating forklifts, this injury can occur.

This injury is caused by collisions, sudden stops, and other similar situations. Due to forklifts being very nimble, they become prone to situations like these when proper care is not taken. Whiplash can cause a limit in movement across your neck and shoulders, tenderness, and can require physical therapy to treat. Of course, this is not ideal for a job that involves operating forklifts.

What’s the best way to avoid this injury?

Simply put, the way to avoid this is caution. If you’re sensible, professional, and careful, you’ll limit the number of opportunities for whiplash to occur. Have a spotter providing instructions if your view is restricted and limit your speed to keep harsh impacts to a minimum.

Head Injuries.

Despite the cage that usually surrounds the driver of a forklift, head injuries are still a serious risk of driving forklifts.

It only takes one badly stored pile of goods to fall onto the cage for a head injury to occur. The roll cage will stop large-scale items hitting the driver, such as pallets themselves. But it won’t stop the contents potentially hitting the driver through the roof of the truck. Furthermore, most forklifts leave the driver exposed from all angles except above.

How can we prevent this injury?

First, wear a hardhat. Anyone in or around a forklift should be wearing one the entire time the truck is being used. Thankfully, most jobs that may need to use a forklift insist on wearing a hardhat. Being observant and professional will also limit the opportunities for head injuries. 

Tipping/Falling Out.

They may be the subject of many funny videos online, but when a forklift tips it can be very dangerous.

This is caused by exceeding the weight limit or not lifting goods correctly with your forklift. Tipping your truck may not only cause the driver injury by falling out but can also cause damage or injury to those around you. Of course, other than the fact that (providing nobody is injured) this can result in a viral video. But, we don’t believe this is worth losing your job.

So, what can be done to ensure this doesn’t happen?

Simply put, be professional. Ensure all goods being lifted are correctly packaged. Check this isn’t over the maximum carry weight. Use a spotter to make sure your path is clear and your truck fits. If your forklift has a seatbelt, use it.

Putting all these into practice reduces the chances of tipping your truck and falling out to almost 0%.

Non-Operator Injuries.

Foot Injuries.

Forklifts can weigh between 3,750 to 5,000 lbs. This is before any carry weight is added. Needless to say, if this was to roll over your foot, you might feel some slight discomfort. I’ll spare you the details, but I’m sure you can imagine the damage a forklift can do to a person’s foot.

This type of injury is caused primarily through lack of communication and vision. Often, the driver of a forklift will have limited vision due to the load they’re carrying. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for these to be accompanied by a spotter, being the second pair of eyes for the driver. They will instruct the driver of obstacles for the forklift to avoid. However, it’s important for those working nearby to be aware of the driver’s routes and working area.

How can you avoid these injuries?

Many jobs that may require the use of a forklift will insist all workers wear steel toecap boots. These will offer some protection but do not turn your toes into superman. So, remain aware of where the truck is working, and allow it space to move. These vehicles can quickly change direction, bringing them and their heavy load in your direction.

Head Injuries.

Much like the drivers themselves, those around the forklift are at risk of head injuries. Even if they’re not operating the vehicle themselves.

It only takes one pallet being held at head-height on a forklift to give you a Bugs Bunny-style lump on your noggin. Remember, these vehicles can travel up to 18mph. Not only this, but forklifts can also create falling dangers. Such as incorrectly stacking goods or knocking over stacked goods, creating the risk of head injuries for those below.

So, how can you prevent this?

To increase your chances of avoiding a head injury around a forklift, you can do two main things. First, wear a hardhat. In most environments a forklift could be used, you’ll likely be wearing one anyway. However, double check your hardhat is well-fitted, safe for use, and on your head. Second is to be aware of what the forklift is being used for and where.


Of course, these are not the only injuries you need to be aware of when using a forklift. The bottom line is that these pieces of equipment can be very dangerous.

For more information on forklifts, licenses, and training, click here. Since 2014, Flexistaff Solutions Ltd has been training workers around the UK to work safely. Our courses are adapted to keep up with trends, legal legislation and changes to machinery.