Falls and slips are a substantial warehouse and construction safety concern. Fortunately, a safety practice can help keep workers safe on their feet and on their seats: the 3 points of contact safety.
Safety is always a top warehouse concern. Workers are constantly navigating heavy inventory, even heavier equipment, and other employees (both heavy and otherwise), all zipping here and there on the warehouse floor. Constant vigilance is essential to avoid accidents and injury.
With so much activity and many safety concerns, it can be easy to overlook an everyday activity that’s also a potential accident waiting to happen: getting into and out of a forklift.
Initially, this may seem like a relatively harmless activity. After all, we get on and off stuff all the time. However, most of the other things we mount and dismount daily are not 9,000 pounds of delicately balanced machinery.
When it comes to getting in and out of a forklift, it pays to be cautious. That’s why forklift operators must remember the 3 points of contact vehicle rule.
Three-point contact safety
OSHA estimates that approximately 70% of all fork truck accidents could be avoided with proper safety training. Part of that training should include the 3 point contact rule, which states that an individual should always have 3 points of contact when climbing or descending ladders, trucks and equipment. In other words, three out of four limbs should always be in secure contact when mounting or dismounting a forklift. This procedure creates three anchor points that help center your gravity and stabilize the vehicle.
One way to ensure that you’re following the three-point forklift rule is to focus on creating a triangle with your limbs. As long as you have two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet on the forklift at all times as you climb on or off the truck, you are much less likely to suffer a fall or have another type of accident. Following the 3-point contact truck rule also ensures that a forklift operator is facing forward as they mount the vehicle, which helps keep their weight evenly distributed.
The proper safety procedure to avoid falls
The three-point contact rule is an essential part of the procedures to safely get on and off heavy equipment like forklifts, starting before you enter the workplace.
Begin by paying attention to the external weather. Rainy or icy outdoor conditions can lead to unsafe and slippery indoor situations. Wet or muddy shoes can cause a fall even if an employee follows the 3-point forklift rule. Always dry your shoes on a mat or scrape the mud off your shoes before attempting to mount heavy machinery.
Next, ensure that your forklift has the necessary grab rails and steps to perform the 3 points of contact safety procedure and that they are undamaged and safe. Possible manufacturer-designed surfaces for mounting and dismounting a forklift include hand grips, running boards, steps, footholds and traction strips.
Then face the forklift and step on the first step (or foothold, etc.) while securely grasping the hand grips (creating the now infamous 3 points of contact), and climb into the cab.
To get out of the truck, make sure the forklift is shut off and parked on a flat surface. Never dismount a vehicle when it’s in motion. Next, shift your body, so you’re facing the machine (these next steps are essentially the reverse of mounting the forklift), establish the 3 points of contact and carefully exit the vehicle. Never jump out of a forklift. Leaping from a vehicle can cause an unsafe landing and result in a sprain or broken bone.
Additional safety tips
- Always firmly grip hand holds.
- Never use the door’s edge or the door frame as a handhold.
- Always use the appropriate running boards or steps to enter and exit a vehicle.
- Never use the tires or wheel hubs as a step surface.
- Always wear closed-toe shoes with good support and the necessary traction.
- Never wear sandals, high-heels or other inappropriate footwear when working with heavy machinery.
- Always make sure the ground is free of obstacles before exiting a vehicle.
- Never enter or exit a vehicle while holding something in one of your hands. Set the object (i.e., your coffee cup) on a flat surface or the vehicle’s floor, then dismount the forklift and pick up the object once you’re out.
- Never rush to leave or jump from a vehicle (or anything you need to climb, such as a ladder).
A safe workplace is everyone’s concern. By following the 3 points of contact forklift safety rule, you are helping to prevent potentially serious injuries and maintain a secure environment. If you have more forklift-related safety questions, especially regarding forklift batteries and accessories, please reach out to our forklift repair service team anytime at (888) 316-2459. To learn more about Texas Motive Solutions and discover everything we can do for you, please fill out this form.