5 Forklift Safety Essentials You Probably Haven’t Considered

Photo courtesy of Pro Source Inc. at flickr.com

Photo courtesy of Pro Source Inc. at flickr.com

Forklift safety is essential for running a successful business. Both operators and pedestrians are at risk anytime one of these heavy, industrial vehicles are used to handle pallets and other materials unsafely.

But forklift safety goes beyond simply watching where you are going, using your horn when coming around corners, or slowing down in areas where pedestrians could be present.

Here are some forklift safety essentials that aren’t always the most obvious.

Where Will You Be Working?

Not every forklift is designed to work on every type of work surface. If you will be transitioning from a cement warehouse or dock floor to a paved outdoor parking lot, or to rough terrain — such as off-road, or on soil or hills — you need to consider whether your vehicle is rated for that type of use.

Driving a forklift on rough terrain is also very different than driving on a smooth flat surface. Operators need to be trained on properly maneuvering their vehicles on slopes, dips, and narrow holes so they can avoid tip-over and rollover accidents.

Tire Types

Most forklift tires are either pneumatic, rubber, or polyurethane. Each has a different purpose.

Pneumatic tires are for heavy lifting operations and are built to be more durable. Rubber is best for indoor use but is more likely to puncture or deflate than pneumatic tires. Polyurethan usually are used on electric forklifts.

Using the wrong tire for the wrong application can be a bad choice, leading to breakdowns, spilled loads, or injuries.

What’s Your Turning Radius?

Narrow aisle forklifts work frequently in tight spaces. Having a forklift with a tight turning radius can improve efficiency and safety … as well as make operators more productive.

Knowing your turning radius is critical to safe operation. Getting stuck is not only embarrassing, it also can be dangerous.

Power Concerns

Versatile, maneuverable electric forklifts are great for indoor work, but gas- and diesel-powered vehicles are better suited for heavy-duty operations. Choosing the right forklift for the right job is important to your safety and success.

Control Panel

Another oft-overlooked safety concern is the forklift’s control panels, which are not universal. You may be familiar with the controls of a particular brand or model of forklift but if you have to change to a different forklift you may be less able to operate it as efficiently or safely.

That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with every forklift’s control panel before using it. Operators often have to make split-second decisions in the heat of the moment. If you don’t know where a particular control or gauge is, it could potentially lead to trouble.

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