For any warehouse, a forklift is an important piece of equipment. In fact, it is the workhorse for a warehouse. These are specific trucks or vehicles being used to carry and transport loads with precision and deft across the storage facility.
Although forklifts are a valuable asset, they can cause risks just like any other industrial machine if not operated properly.
According to the OSHA (The Occupational Health and Safety Administration), forklift accidents cause over 34,900 serious injuries and death every year. Even scarier is that 25 percent of those accidents are the outcome of poor training and improper safety measures.
Forklift, if operated poorly, not only risks the life of the operator but also poses threat to the pedestrians.
Therefore, safety measures and precautions are as important as owning a forklift. Here we will walk through the important forklift safety tips.
Opt for Forklift Certifications:
Since many accidents are the outcome of poor training, it is highly recommended that only those who have been trained and certified with OSHA criteria should be preferred for operating a forklift. In other words, make sure your operator is trained and licensed.
Moreover, you should assess the performance of your operator at once every two years.
Wear Proper Gear:
Make sure that your operators are equipped with proper safety gear such as hard hats, safety shoes, and high visibility jackets. They should tuck away loose clothing to avoid it from getting caught on the machine.
Perform a Daily Inspection:
Forklifts are required to be inspected before every use to detect problems or defects. If your equipment needs repair or is malfunctioning, it should never be operated. Some of the recommended checks to be included in your daily inspection are…
- Testing operating controls such as lights, horn, brakes, and steering wheel
- Checking mast and overhead guard for damage
- Examining tires and fluid levels
- Inspecting for oil, radiator leaks, and water
- Look for cracks and distortion
Ensuring the 360° Visibility:
Visibility is an important aspect of operating any vehicle. However, it might be complicated in the case of industrial vehicles such as forklifts. You need to keep the forks low to the ground to enhance forward visibility. If the loads restrict your view, drive the equipment in reverse. Always make sure you are able to see the racks clearly when you are positioning the load.
Some other best practices are…
- Making eye contact with pedestrians and other workers
- Looking in the direction of travel
- Using rear-view mirrors to promote visibility
- Using headlights if working outdoor, at night, or in dark areas.
Using a Floor Marking System:
Pedestrians or the people around the forklift are also required to stay safe. Having a floor marking system can play an important role in this context.
For example, yellow marks on the floor can be used to indicate the physical hazards such as areas prone to falling or stumbling or red to mark fire hazards, fire equipment, and emergency switches.
Way-finders and other signs alert pedestrians to stay away from forklift paths.
Clearing the Clutter off the Way:
Cluttered floors can pose a slipping or tripping danger for pedestrians and operate over clutter can be risky. Therefore, make sure to pick up the small pieces as you walk along the route to avoid meeting the accident.
Using Flashing Lights or Backup Alarms When Traveling in Reverse:
Pedestrians are not always aware of your next move. They might be looking at somewhere when you go reverse, leading to an accident. Therefore, alert them using flashing lights or backup alarms.
If your forklift lacks safety lights or alarms, make sure to verbally warn pedestrians.
Checking the Forklift’s Stability:
Before operating a forklift, an operator should sit in a comfortable position while all the controls should be within reach.
There is a center of gravity for each forklift—a spot where the weight has equal concentration—that is being shared with the load carried. As the load gets heavier, it is more likely to displace the equipment from the load center, reducing the lifting efficiency of your forklift.
Therefore, you should lift the load as recommended by the manufacturer. Exceeding the weight capacity can make the machine prone to tipping.
What to Keep in Mind If You are Using Propane Forklifts?
While the safety instructions remain the same for all forklift types, some can be specific for those running on different fuels such as propane.
If you are using propane cylinders, make sure to inspect propane cylinders for dents, rusting, gouges, or worn O-rings and valves before using the forklift.
Besides, store cylinders in a secure place or cage. Don’t forget to close the service valves on cylinders when not in use to prevent fuel loss.
So you must have understood how to ensure safety to your operator and pedestrians while operating the forklift.
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