Avoiding Common Forklift Operation Problems

Forklift operators need to be certain that the load is stable and balanced on the forks. (Courtesy: Jaxport at flickr.com)

Forklift operators need to be certain that the load is stable and balanced on the forks.
(Courtesy: Jaxport at flickr.com)

Four of the most common forklift safety issues are:

· Turnovers
· Pedestrian Accidents
· Falls
· Mechanical Malfunctions

Learning to avoid these problems will assist in keeping injuries to forklift operators and warehouse workers down to a minimum and will help productivity.

Here are some tips to avoid the common problems.

Turnovers

Because of the nature of the beast, an average forklift is susceptible to turnovers. That’s because of the weight of the lifts. A forklift can weigh as much as several thousand pounds and a forklift operator has to take precautions to balance the weight properly as he maneuvers the machine. In order to limit turnovers, forklift drivers are urged to:

· Make certain that a load is stable and balanced on forks.
· Don’t drive the vehicle when the load is elevated.
· Keep a load uphill when traveling up or down an incline.
· Be extra careful when crossing ramps or traveling on wet, slippery surfaces.
· Take turns at a slower speed and make turns as gradual as possible.

Pedestrian Accidents

A busy warehouse offers opportunities for forklift-pedestrian accidents. This can be avoided if forklift operators concentrate on the job at hand, obey speed limits, continuously watch for pedestrians, and be quick to sound the lift’s horn when necessary. Pedestrians also have an obligation to be aware of what is occurring around them. So don’t wear ear buds, headphones or anything else that could affect your ability to hear. Warehouse managers could also follow these tips to contribute to a safe environment.

· Separate pedestrian and forklift traffic with assigned walkways.
· Install overhead dome mirrors at blind corners.
· Never allow a forklift load to obstruct the view of the driver.
· Limit forklift use in pedestrian areas including the time clock, break room or anywhere else where foot traffic could be high.

Falls

The manner in which forklifts are used can make falls an issue. For example, pickers may be depending on a forklift operator to raise them on platforms so that they can reach products stored on top of tall shelves. In addition, forklift drivers have been known to accidently fall off a lift. Here are some tips to prevent these types of accidents from occurring.

· Drivers must remain inside the driving compartment while operating a forklift. They should also be secured to the seat with a seatbelt.
· Never permit a second person to ride on a forklift unless there is a seat available for him.
· Never permit workers to stand or sit on forks while the forklift is in motion.
· Use only a secure and approved platform with a cage to elevate personnel.
· Make certain that pickers are restrained by rails, chains or body belt when on a platform.

Mechanical Malfunctions

Forklifts are after all machines. Something always happens to machines. To minimize problems, the forklift operator should inspect a lift regularly and correctly maintain it. Tips suggested to ensure safe function of the lift include:

· A forklift operator should regularly inspect brakes, steering and forklift mast assembly.
· Always remove forklifts from service when a problem is found.
· Perform regular maintenance on the hydraulic system and transmission of a lift.
· Check and if defective replace safety devices including horns and lights.
· Stop using old, outdated forklifts.

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