Forklift Safety: To Minimize Risk
Forklift safety is a concept that should not be overlooked in any warehouse, agricultural or building site. The responsibility normally falls on the employer to have forklift safety regulations and guidelines communicated to employees. This is firstly to guarantee the protection of the operators, and secondly to ensure that the workers who share the workplace are at no risk.
This page aims to provide a few of the important precautions and regulations that should be prevalent in all workplaces. There are undoubtedly some that are unique to certain models and employers. For more information on these please contact an employment representative.
- Daily inspections should be mandatory. These should incorporate a walk round the forklift looking for any sign of leaking or damp spots and possible obstructions. Like with automobiles these vehicles also need engine inspections including - monitoring engine levels (water, oil, fuel, battery fluid etc), monitoring tyres, checking lights and finally ensuring the breaks are in 100% working order.
- Understanding and knowing the optimum and correct way to estimate / judge the weight of loads that are to be lifted.
- A flashing / audible siren should be activated (or alternatively a horn sounded) when the lift truck is coming up to a walkway, gradient, other vehicles or entrance way and also when it moves from a stationary position.
- An operator is required to decrease their speed if their vision is infringed in any way. Times when this is the norm include when approaching a corner, a steep gradient and entrance areas.
- A forklift moving in the same direction should in no way be tried to be overtaken at intersections or possible blind spot areas.
- When parked and stationary the lift needs be reset to the lowered position, the gear lever set to neutral and finally the hand brake engaged.
- With regards to forklift safety, NO PERSON should ever walk under a raised lift!
- NO PERSON should be raised using the lift. The only time this can be done is if a specific piece of equipment is attached that is specifically designed for this function.
- The vehicle should be reversed if ever the load being carried in any way infringes on the forward view.
- Work surfaces should be monitored and the operator should adjust his speed accordingly.
- The fork needs to be set so that it can accommodate the weight of specific loads. The fork also needs reach as far back as possible under the load (provides more stability) so that it sits up against a backrest with the mast slanting back.
- Overhead obstructions are a common hazard and one that can change depending on where one is. A driver has to be constantly aware of changes to the height within the workplace and also aware of the height of the lift.
- Driving and work areas need to be indicated - this is usually done through the use of yellow demarcations.
- Just like with cars there is an advised distance that should be followed between forklifts -that is a distance equivalent to that of 3 vehicles.
- Engine grease and oil often coat work gloves in industrial conditions. This can dangerous if these gloves are then used when steering and operating a forklift.