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Does OSHA Require Spotters for Forklifts?

A forklift can tip over if not operated properly. Anything from driving with too much weight or using fork extensions can topple the vehicle over. This can result in significant damage. With new forklifts costing anywhere between $20,000 to $45,000 dollars, not to mention the sanctity of workers’ lives, it is important to have a spotter.

OSHA advises having a spotter operate alongside the truck driver. The spotter keeps watch over the forklift and provides the driver with vital information, serving as the driver’s extra set of eyes and ears. Using this technique, forklift spotting makes sure the driver can get information about things they can’t see or hear.

Spotter specifications and responsibilities change depending on the job. Forklift spotters at a warehouse, for instance, must take into account different risks than spotters for heavy machinery. Forklift spotters are essential workers regardless of their title or location. Your company is well-prepared to prevent forklift accidents if spotters are in place.

Forklift Spotter Responsibilities

Forklift spotting might appear to be easy, but it can be dangerous. Accidental collisions between a forklift driver and a spotter can be fatal. A spotter is well-equipped to prevent these tragedies if they are aware of the hazards involved.

Spotters must undergo a thorough training program because of their challenging job. A forklift spotter makes sure a truck driver moves a load to the proper area and lifts it correctly. This involves making sure the load is balanced to prevent it from falling off the forklift. As soon as the forklift is in motion, the spotter makes sure that no people or objects are struck.

Work duties for a forklift spotter include:

The main goal of forklift spotter training is to reduce workplace hazards. A shared understanding between the forklift driver and the spotter is necessary for safety. Maintaining communication with a forklift driver is key. Spotters can alert the operator right away if they see any dangers. This enables the operator to reduce the possibility of accidents and prevent endangering the spotter or others. Workplaces are chaotic, sometimes loud. Communication may be difficult. So, spotters use hand signals.

Forklift Spotter Safety

The spotter’s duty is to ensure the safety of everyone working near the forklift. Spotters must put workplace safety first because they are also in danger. OSHA requirements call for a spotter to be present on almost every job site, with few exceptions.

It is always a good idea to have a qualified spotter on standby regardless of OSHA Requirements. The greatest spotters double as forklift operators, so forklift spotter training involves how to operate a forklift. The best spotters are frequently the best drivers.

Load-lifting procedures are covered in forklift spotter training as well. Spotters instruct operators on the job about when and how to raise a load. Although operators are capable of doing this, their views of the load are not always sufficient. Loading and lifting can be safer and simpler with an extra set of eyes.

When a load is on a high rack, having a spotter is essential as well. In this situation, even a slight error could result in the load falling, causing an accident, injury, or even death. The spotter’s duty is to ensure the safety of everyone working near the forklift.

Forklift spotters should use hand signals, in addition to the previously mentioned safety advice, to communicate with drivers. A spotter should talk to the driver about any blind spots if they have never used a forklift or other heavy machinery. This will lessen the likelihood that the spotter will enter a blind spot.

The blind spot has been the scene for many workplace accidents and even fatalities. According to OSHA’s current estimates, between 35,000 and 62,000 forklift-related injuries occur each year, and 75 to 100 employees die as a result. Take, for example, the experience of Elliot:

While he was an experienced worker, Elliot was new to this specific construction site. Needing to reach another area of the site faster, he decided to walk between forklifts. Suddenly, he was struck by the tire of a reversing forklift. Elliot’s ankle snapped, and he had to be hospitalized. Elliot’s injury could have been avoided had the site had a spotter. The spotter could have communicated Elliot’s position to the forklift driver.

Your business should hold frequent spotter meetings to go over important safety issues. However, if you are looking for specific tips for forklift spotter safety, here are a few of our suggestions:

  1. Use hand signals. A forklift operator and spotter should agree and confirm a standard hand signal system before beginning a task.
  2. Use two-way radio communication. The forklift spotter and driver may have trouble seeing one another.
  3. Maintain eye contact between the driver and the spotter. Walkie-talkies or other radio communication is advised if visual contact is lost between driver and spotter.
  4. Don’t multitask. The likelihood of an accident or injury increases as distractions increase. The use of headphones, cell phones, or other items that could occupy a spotter’s attention is prohibited.
  5. Remember pedestrians when using traffic control methods. Using cones, signs, and other right-of-way markers can assist in directing foot traffic away from dangerous areas.
  6. Spotters should dress in distinguishable, brightly colored attire. Don’t forget to dress visibly, especially at night. For your specific job, you might need to wear gloves, a hat, goggles, or other PPE. Review the PPE requirements before beginning a job.

Do Forklift Spotters Require Training?

Anyone can work as a forklift spotter as long as they have the proper training. Just like a forklift driver needs certification, spotters must go through a training program. The danger of forklift accidents and injuries on a job site can be reduced if a spotter understands the ins and outs of assisting a forklift operator.

Operator training often has advantages for forklift spotters as well. They can use the training to learn the responsibilities of both operators and spotters. Additionally, the training provides them with a chance to learn more about forklift spotting and develop the knowledge they need to become skilled spotters.

Heavy Equipment Spotters

Spotters are not just for indoor distribution centers and warehouses. Spotters for heavy machinery are crucial for tasks like construction and heavy-duty maintenance. A spotter is essential for many outside activities, including those involving construction sites, aerial lifts, earthmovers, and more. Before beginning a job, a forklift spotter and operator should make a safety plan. They should discuss the intended route and come to an agreement on hand signals first.

When working close to steel columns, active power lines, and overhead structures, spotters are crucial. Working in close quarters can be challenging, and a worksite may involve rocky terrain or treacherous roadways. In certain scenarios, a spotter can increase security and aid in accident avoidance.

Spotters for heavy machinery perform the same fundamental tasks as forklift spotters. Spotters aid aerial lift and equipment operators when moving their vehicles. Heavy equipment spotters also check for any trip or fall hazards on the ground and make sure employees stay away from traffic lanes.