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Using the Horn on a Forklift

The horn of the forklift is among the most important safety features. Without it, the vehicle poses a danger to pedestrians, other forklift operators, and if an accident were to take place, then the company itself. You should use the horn when approaching:

  • Intersections
  • Corners
  • Blindspots
  • Other heavy machinery
  • Areas with pedestrians

When you do not use your horn to alert your fellow employees that you are approaching and to stay clear of the forklift, there is a higher chance for accidents or fatalities in the workplace. Take this case study, for example:

Case Study:

Lector was working in a distribution center driving a sit-down forklift. He dismounted from the forklift he was operating and stopped to talk to his supervisor about an order before he loaded his pallet onto a truck. Jenica was driving a forklift in the same area, unloading a truck. She was driving in reverse with her load because the forks made it so that she could not see forwards. Lector did not hear the forklift approaching because Jenica was so focused on driving backwards that she forgot to sound off her alarm as she rounded the corner. She noticed Lector too late and ended up pinning him in between both of their forklifts. Their supervisor immediately instructed Jenica to move her forklift. As she did so, Lector fell to the floor. He ended up with a broken left leg and was taken by ambulance to the closest hospital, where he spent eight days recovering.

Had Jencia remembered to use her horn while turning that corner, Lector would have been able to move out of the way before he was hit. This is why using your forklift horn is important to employee safety.

Are the Rules Different When I’m Carrying a Load?

The same rules apply and are even more important when you are carrying a load. A load could obstruct your view, which would make it even harder for you to see things or people that are in your path.

Where Is the Horn on a Forklift?

The forklift’s horn is often positioned in the middle of the steering wheel. It can be either a single button or a larger pad that, when pushed, causes the horn to blare loudly. At the start of each shift, it’s always a good idea to test a forklift’s horn.

OSHA Requirements for Forklift Manufacturing

OSHA does not have explicit guidelines for the use of forklift horns, but they do require that employers protect their workers against significant and known risks. Training forklift operators in the proper usage of their horn and backup alarm is one of the best ways for employers to guarantee employee safety.

When it comes to the production and components of a forklift, OSHA defers to the standards established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Are Forklifts Required To Have a Horn?

ANSI has standards specifically in regards to forklifts in order to promote safety through their design, construction, application, operation, and maintenance. Manufacturers are required to equip every forklift with an operator-controlled horn, whistle, gong, or other sound-producing device.

It is also required that the horn of a forklift should have output levels of about ten decibels above the average sound level in the workplace.

Can a Forklift Horn be Used Incorrectly?

When you are operating a forklift and using your horn to let everyone know where you are while carrying a load, then you are using your horn correctly. You should not use your horn to goof around or when you are angry. The horn on your forklift is a safety feature and should be used as such. Take this case study into consideration:

Kai was working at a stocking warehouse used for chemical supplies. He and his coworker, Shane, were generally the only people working in their warehouse. Because of this, they would always goof around on their breaks, honking their horns at each other and messing around. One morning, Kai was sweeping up some sawdust at the end of one of the warehouse’s aisles, and Shane was on his way to lift a load into a truck waiting to head out. Shane honked his horn as he turned the corner, alerting just in case. Kai heard the horn but assumed that Shane was just honking for a laugh, so he did not move. Because Kai was bent over, Shane did not see him before he felt his forklift hit Kai and run over his right leg. Kai was sent to the hospital with a fractured leg and was unable to return to work for over a month while his leg healed.

Due to Shane and Kai’s habits of honking while they were goofing off, Kai did not recognize the honk for what it was intended for. They had developed a bad working habit, and if that had not happened, Kai probably would have moved out of the way instead of getting run over.

Employee Safety Outside of The Forklift

When working in an environment where you are around moving forklifts, it is important for you to always be listening for backup alarms and horns. By hearing these things, you will be able to steer clear of injuries and accidents in the workplace. You can also always look out for the forklift’s flashing lights.

Consider checking out our forklift hand signals cards.

Our Hard Hat Safety Training

At Hard Hat Training, we provide a range of forklift training programs. Additionally, we provide these courses in a variety of learning formats. In order to deliver a learning experience that works best for your company, regardless of the amount of employees or their work schedule, we offer these courses to our customers. These are the forklift courses we provide: