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Forklift booms are a helpful attachment that can transform practically any lift truck into a crane. While forklift booms expand the versatility of your vehicle, they are only as safe as the person using them.
Before using forklift booms, operators need to be trained on the proper procedures for safe installation and operation of the devices. Before the boom is even attached to the forklift, the operator needs to ensure that the particular type of boom has been approved for use by the vehicle’s manufacturer.
Finding this information is relatively simple. The owner’s manual for the boom should include a list of forklift models to which it is compatible. If the manual is not available, a quick online search of the boom’s manufacturer, model number, and the terms “owner’s manual PDF” should instantly provide access to the information needed.
Installing the Boom Safely
When attaching the boom to the forklift, it’s important that all supplied safety restraints and safety pins are used according to the boom manufacturers’ specifications.
The operator also needs to be adequately trained in the use of the boom. Some manufacturers offer free online video tutorials that can be watched on smartphones, tablets, and other streaming devices prior to operating their products.
Six Safety Rules
When the boom is attached and the operator is familiar with how to use it, there are still safety protocols that need to be followed. Here are six of the most important safety rules for operating forklift boom attachments:
Walk-Around — Operators should conduct an inspection of the boom prior to each shift. Never assume that because the boom performed safely for the previous driver or an earlier shift that it is ready to go for your shift.
Know the Limits — Boom attachments should never be loaded beyond the maker’s specified load limits. This information can easily be found in the owner’s manual, on the manufacturer’s website, or on a decal or plate attached to the unit.
Research Local Laws — Some jurisdictions require special licensing or training certification for operators using forklifts equipped with boom attachments. Know the requirements in your area. Ignorance of the law is no defense.
No Shut-Down — Any time the boom attachment is under load, the operator is required to remain behind the controls of the vehicle with the engine running. No exceptions.
Chock it Up — When using the boom to place materials into a truck bed or another wheeled vehicle, the receiving vehicle needs to be firmly chocked with the braking system applied.
PPE — Employees working on or around forklifts equipped with boom attachments need to wear hard hats at steel-toed work boots at all times.