Reducing The Risks When Operating A Forklift
Date: 5 November 2013
A forklift truck can be the source of some serious, and in some cases fatal, incidents if you don’t have the correct procedures and training in place. Here we have compiled a list of handy tips and guidelines to help you in implementing safe policies related to the use of forklifts, whether you operate in a warehouse, a factory or even an aerodrome.
It is vital that when operating a forklift you pay full attention to your surroundings as well as the guidelines set out by your workplace. There should be designated areas and workways in which you must remain and not veer from, to do so could surprise a fellow employee who is not expecting you.
Ensure that when operating a forklift near a ramp or dock that you are aware of where the edges are, it is easy to drive too close to these edges and slip over them. Similarly you should also keep your eyes on your load height when passing through doors or barriers.
Although we all want to get our work done on time and to schedule you should never drive above the speed limit, to do so would endanger both yourself and others working in the same area. For cornering the principle is much the same, you should proceed with caution, driving slower the sharper the corner, this limits the damage done, should anyone be oncoming from the opposite direction. If you need to change direction or stop then do so slowly and gradually, this will help avoid losing control.
When driving a forklift it will be your responsibility to make sure the load is appropriate. You need to ensure that the weight of whatever you lift is evenly distributed across both forks, if the pallet or item doesn’t rest level on each, you risk unbalancing your truck or dropping the load – all of which is dangerous. You will also be responsible for knowing the capacity of the forklift which you operate and you should never use the forks as a lever or a ram.
Equipment, Clothing & Qualification
There are many small things you can do to ensure that you operate a forklift safely before you even get moving. First, your clothing should be appropriate, with safety shoes, a hard hat and visibility vests at the top of the list. After making sure you are ready you can also make sure your equipment is ready, as the tyres, steering and lights are all important to a safe days work. While the qualifications you need might not be a small issue it pays to stop and think: am I qualified to operate this machinery? If you have any doubts then you should speak to a supervisor or manager.
Finally you should always think and use your best judgement when in charge of a forklift, this might seem a simple and obvious tip but you always need to use your initiative to prevent accidents. Never let anyone ride on the forklift, tomfoolery always ends badly. These machines are just that – machines – not toys. When you’ve finished using a truck you should lower the forks and turn it off, and remove the keys.
There is much more you can do on top of this to ensure the safe operation of forklifts in your workplace but these are just a few of the essential tips and guidelines to get you started.