A forklift is a valuable piece of equipment, as it helps companies move product around their facility with ease. Without it, workers would be forced to move items manually, which would greatly lengthen the time it takes to complete jobs. Though this equipment has a very productive role, it also poses a threat to the product and workers if used improperly.
Today, June 13, 2017 is National Forklift Safety Day. This day is a great opportunity to recognize best practices for forklift operation and reflect on ways to actively prevent accidents. The best way to do this is to practice safety in all areas of your operation: with your people, materials, equipment, and environment.
The surest way for an accident to occur is having untrained people operate forklifts. Not having proper knowledge of lift truck stability and safe operating procedures can lead to operators making mistakes that could have easily been avoided. This is why it is very important to put all operators through forklift operator training.
Another way accidents can occur is through negligent behavior of your workers. Operators who have an indifferent attitude or who aren’t paying attention can run into walls or racking, or even hit pedestrians walking by. In addition to operators paying attention, pedestrians who know forklifts are in operation nearby need to be aware of their surroundings and look where they are walking.
Improperly stacked materials can also cause dangerous situations as they can fall over and hurt people nearby. If materials are insecurely loaded onto your lift, this can also cause the materials to fall off, or worse, cause your machine to tip over. Always make sure that your load is secure and that it doesn’t block visibility. If it is difficult to see through the mast due to a large load, be sure to drive backwards or have someone direct you on a clear path.
There are various ways that equipment can go from productive to destructive. If you are trying to use equipment that is wrong for the job, then you may be trying to lift too heavy a load or fit your equipment in too tight of a space. Either situation can cause an accident to occur, so it is important that you find out which equipment works best for your application.
Additionally, you should be providing adequate maintenance for your equipment. Getting on a planned maintenance schedule for your equipment can help prevent unpredictable breakdowns that can lead to damage of your facility, product, or workers. Another way to ensure your equipment is in prime condition is to perform a pre-operational safety check, which includes checking:
- The tires for excessive wear, deep cuts, and proper inflation.
- The horn and any other warning devices for proper operation.
- The general appearance and proper operation of the seat belt.
- All lift, lower, tilt, and attachment controls for proper operation and any visual signs of hydraulic leakage.
- The parking and service brakes.
- The steering for excessive play or binding. Also, remember some vehicles steer opposite than normal; this is especially true on narrow aisle equipment.
- The forks and fork retaining pins for damage.
- The general appearance of the mast, operator’s seat and hydraulic hoses.
Finally, the environment in which you are operating your equipment can impact safe procedures as well. If your environment is overly congested or has poor lighting, it makes visibility much more difficult. Additionally uneven or slippery floors can cause equipment not meant for those conditions to slide or even tip over. Be sure to properly prepare your environment with a clean layout that makes it easiest to maneuver your equipment.
Though today is National Forklift Safety Day, try to keep these best practices in mind year round to prevent damages to your product and facility and to provide your workers with a safe work environment.