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Whenever you fit an attachment onto a forklift, it can change the vehicle’s capabilities to perform specific tasks. For example, a drum lifting attachment allows you to easily transport cylindrical barrels from one area to another. But if your vehicle isn’t rated for the additional weight capacity of the barrels, it can lead to an accident or injury.
Using Attachments Changes the Center of Gravity
The most common causes of injury in forklift-related accidents come from the vehicles and/or their loads tipping over. Collisions are the second most common cause of injury. Using attachments that aren’t authorized for your specific brand of vehicle can increase these risks, so you should never operate a forklift without knowing how the attachment will affect its overall operation, especially its weight distribution.
Attachments also can change the lift capacity and affect a forklift’s stability. Using a non-approved attachment to perform a task is often asking for trouble.
Educate Operators on Proper Procedures
Learning whether a specific attachment — such as a side shift device, jibs and extension forks — are authorized for your vehicle is often as simple as looking at the attachment’s and/or forklift’s owners manual. If you don’t have one or (more likely) can’t immediately locate it, simply visit the manufacturer’s website where copies of owners manuals usually can be instantly downloaded, often for free.
When consulting the owner’s manual, ensure that the attachments have rated capacities and information on their safe operation. For example, you may need to de-rate the forklift’s capacity to account for the attachment’s weight. Also, some operating controls may be restricted.
Double Check for Safety
Even if the attachment is approved for use with your forklift, you still need to make sure it is properly secured and is safely attached to your vehicle. And if a load is suspended, remember to reduce the lift capacity.
Authorized attachments are only to be used for specified tasks. Using an attachment for an unapproved purpose can potentially damage your vehicle and increase the risk for accidents.
It’s one thing for you to have a copy of the proper instructions for your forklift attachment, but its another thing to make sure your operator also has them and is familiar with them.
Training and Certification All Over Again
Adequate training for new attachments is just as important as training drivers how to operate the forklift itself. Whenever a new attachment is used, the forklift becomes an entirely new vehicle that has a whole new use. Training needs to include information on the attachment’s operation. load plate, and risks and control measures relevant to the job and work area.
Include supervisors and managers while you are training the operators on the new attachment. This will reduce duplication of efforts and help ensure everybody is on the same page. Finally, make sure there is a testing and certification process in place so that you will be able to prove that you provided adequate training should an accident later occur.
Forklift attachment safety is everybody’s business.