Simple Tips for Operating a Forklift Safely

Forklifts are innovative machines designed for the heavy-duty industry. It is used throughout many companies that require moving pieces from one point to another. Equipment such as a reach truck or hand pallet trucks aid in speeding up the operations and enhancing the productivity of the workplace. However, handling these heavy machineries also comes with hefty risks. They are extremely dangerous if they are improperly used. It is reported that almost thousands of accidents related to forklifts happen annually which is why it is imperative for managers and operators that they are trained properly and well-qualified to manage this type of machinery.

Here are simple tips that every operative should know when operating a forklift.

Regular Training for Operators

Regular Training for Operators
It is an obligation to attend and complete training programs, especially in this line of work. This simple necessity is a must to ensure the safety of the workplace and its employees. The forklift operators should be well versed on how to use the machine to legally operate it. Provide regular training programs to your operators so that they are updated on the latest practices on handling and maintaining the equipment.

Always Wear Protective Gears

Should an incident occur, require your employees to wear a complete set of protective gear to avoid potentially disabling accidents and reduce serious injuries being inflicted on the body. It is obligatory that each person should wear a hard hat, steel-toe shoes, high-visibility clothing, and tight-fit clothes. If they lack any of these items, they should not be permitted to be within range of your operations area. This is mostly for the individual’s safety and to also avoid an occurrence of serious incidents.

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Consistent Pre-operation Inspections

Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America
A basic rule of thumb, performing safety checks before using heavy machinery are essential so that you will be able to examine and identify if there are issues within sections of the forklift and if something needs to be repaired. The sections that need to be closely inspected are: steering, brakes, manuever-ability, signalling devices, controls, tires and fork. If any of these parts are either faulty or non-operational, it is best to check it up with a qualified technician for repair and maintenance. Never put the machine into action until all issues are resolved.

Check Your Workplace Before You Start

Hazard management starts with inspecting your workplace. Forklift operators are tasked to inspect the area in which they will be working to pre-assess if the routes and zones are clear of obstructions. A checklist should be followed regarding the safety level of the forklift zone:

Are the forklift zones fully marked with signs and fences?

Ratto Bros Inc, Gemüsebauer, USA;
Foto: KIONGROUP/Oliver Lang
Are there sufficient ventilation and lighting in your routes for your forklift to drive through?
Are pathways clear – any notable blind spots, broken ramps, misdirected rail tracks or overhead features that may hinder the operation? If yes, notify your team lead first before starting work.

Ensure Your Cargo Is Within The Load Capacity And Is Stable

One of the causes of forklift accidents is due to unsafe loads. Always check your cargo for damage before moving them to avoid any spillage of content. Look for any overhead objects that may clang during the move. If the load is unevenly balanced and if they are too heavy and stacked up too high, it will cause your vehicle to tip resulting to serious injuries.

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Operate At A Safe Speed

Operate At A Safe Speed
Speed limits should be set within the workplace. Operators should mind every corner, turns and intersections within their assigned zone and also consider their stopping distances, stability of their forklift when using brakes, and current environmental factors that may affect the driving experience of the machine.

With these simple tips in mind, you will be able to avoid accidents and guarantee the safety of your employees and the workplace.