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One of the most difficult things for new forklift drivers to learn is how to use the horn. This is especially true if they equating driving a forklift with driving an automobile or pickup truck.
When driving a car or truck in traffic, using your horn is likely to get you dirty looks … or worse. But when you are driving a forklift, honking your horn frequently and loudly is an essential part of safe driving.
Why Horns Are Important
For lift truck drivers, horns are one of the primary ways operators can let pedestrians, other drivers, and other people know that their forklift is about to enter the work area. So it’s critical that forklift drivers honk their horns when approaching intersections, coming up on blind corners, or even when they see somebody in their path.
In busy workplaces, many people are so busy on the task at hand that they aren’t paying as much attention to the surrounding area as they should. Forklift horns provide a non-visual signal that a heavy, fast-moving, potentially dangerous vehicle is about to enter their work area. It’s often the only tool other workers can rely on to give them fair warning to get out of the way.
The Horns of Dilemma
Forklift operators should never assume that other employees can see them coming. Many workplaces are loud and distracting. A lot of workers wear earplugs and other noise abatement equipment when doing their jobs. So they may not be able to hear the forklift’s motor or wheels approaching. That’s why horns are critical tools for workplace safety.
Forklift horns are designed to be loud and abrasive so that they can clearly be heard over the typical workplace din or by people wearing earphones or earplugs.
Inexperienced forklift operators often feel self-conscious about using their horn so frequently. But most quickly learn that the more often they honk their horn, the safer the environment for their co-workers.
A good rule of thumb is to use your horn whenever you see any type of risk. This can include things like other workers with their back turned to you, areas you can’t instantly see such as around corners or intersections, or anytime you think there is even the smallest risk of somebody being in the path of your vehicle.
When driving your personal car or truck, honking the horn may be a nuisance to other drivers. But when operating a forklift, honking your horn loudly and frequently could prevent an injury or accident.