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5 Surprising Forklift Safety Issues that Could Spell Trouble

Photo courtesy of Teambonkers73 at flickr.com

Maximizing forklift safety requires proper training, vigilant vehicle inspection and maintenance, and situational awareness on the part of both forklift drivers and pedestrians.

But there are other less obvious elements that contribute to forklift safety in the workplace. Here are five that may surprise you.

Forklift Tires 

Most people take forklift tires for granted. After all, the tires that came with your forklift are probably the right tires for that particular model, right? Not necessarily.

Forklifts tires generally fall into three categories: Pneumatic, rubber, and polyurethane. Each has its specific applications.

Pneumatic tires are best for heavy lifting operations. Rubber tires are typically used in indoor work environments. And polyurethane tires are best for electric forklifts and specialized jobs.

Use the wrong type of tire on your forklift for the job and it could put your employees, and your business, at risk.

Turning Radius

Some forklifts, such as narrow-aisle lift trucks, are designed to turn on a dime. But bigger, older models may require much more room to complete an 180-degree turn.

If your forklift has a turning radius that is larger than it should be for the job you are using it for, it can complicate tasks and increase hazards.

Power Supply

This one should be a no-brainer but is often overlooked. You can't use diesel or gasoline powered forklifts indoors, at least not without the proper ventilation. Their toxic emissions can harm or even kill people.

Forklift Control Panel

Most forklifts have the same controls. But they aren't all necessarily in the same place. When an operator is used to reaching for the mast tilt knob in one spot but is driving a different vehicle, it could spell disaster if he mistakenly pulls on a lever that does something else.

Operators need specific training for working the controls of any type of forklift they are required to operate. Don't assume drivers will be able to "figure it out" once they get behind the wheel.

Weather Conditions

Forklifts that work outside are subject to changing weather conditions. Rain, sleet, snow, and cold temperatures can increase the risk of an accident.

Managers should monitor the weather and make adjustments based on what it's doing outside. Requiring operators to work unprotected in bad weather conditions not only puts their health at risk but also can lead to more collisions with people and property.

Forklift safety requires training, experience, and common sense.