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For the most part, the many forklift rules and regulations do a more than decent job of helping to make sure that all forklift operators are qualified and that machines are in good working order. However, this does not mean that there are not areas where the OSHA needs to be more stringent. Chief among these is chain safety, an area for which there are no requirements. The absence of any formal specifications is problematic given the important role that the chain plays in keeping the forklift running smoothly. Therefore, this post focuses on why chain safety cannot be ignored, and why you should have your chain inspected each year.
Why the chain is so important
The short answer for why your chain should not be ignored is that an unchecked one has devastating consequences. With a malfunctioning chain, an entire load can fall, causing damage to the operator, vehicle, and cargo. You want your chain to display all of the details and history, including the minimum braking load. When inspection is not done on a yearly basis, operators no longer have a clear understanding of whether their chain remains in proper shape, placing the onus on the operators (who do not have the proper training) to rigorously inspect the forklift themselves.
What to look for when inspecting
There are a number of considerations to bear in mind when maintaining and inspecting the forklift chain. First, you should always inspect for rust, and if there is rust, this means that it should be replaced. Any cracks or protruding pins similarly signal that the chain needs replacement. In every inspection, check to make sure that the anchors and sheaves are not misaligned, and remember that an elongation of 3% or higher results in a 15% reduction in strength.
The typical lifespan of the forklift chain is anywhere between 3-5 years and unfortunately, it is not covered by service and maintenance packages. Still, the state of the chain affects the operator, vehicle, and cargo; operators must therefore always remember that it is crucial to pay close attention, regardless of the lack of enforcement by the OSHA.