Forklift Operation Is Serious Business: Part II – Preventing Accidents

Extend forks completely into a pallet and be certain to tilt the mast back to stabilize the load before moving. (Courtesy: Bryan Van Devender at flickr.com)

Extend forks completely into a pallet and be certain to tilt the mast back to stabilize the load before moving.
(Courtesy: Bryan Van Devender at flickr.com)

Accidents may be considered events that can’t be avoided. That is not true. One reason why it is so important for forklift drivers to be trained before they take on work assignments is exactly for the reason of preventing accidents. A little refresher course every once in awhile may not be a bad idea, too.

Training is so important because it helps the driver learn how to operate and maintain the forklift. But it also acquaints him with the rules of operating the lifts, too.

There are a number of things a lift operator needs to become familiar with before he operates the forklift. These include:

· Understanding that operating a lift takes skill, mechanical knowledge, compliance to safety regulations, and knowledge of defensive driving initiatives.
· Only the assigned driver or drivers should actually operate the forklift because they are familiar with the lift they drive and they are responsible for caring for the lift.
· Knowing when a forklift is defective and alerting the appropriate people that a repair is necessary. The lift must be taken out of service until it is safe to operate.
· Only a trained and authorized operator should drive the forklift.
· Drivers should use a three-point stance when operating the lift. This includes having two hands and one foot in contact with the floor or lift at all times.
· Never jump on or off the lift.
· Become familiar with the use of and locations of the controls.
· Wear the seatbelt.
· Keep arms and legs inside the lift.
· Face the direction of travel, concentrate on what you are doing, and never travel forward with a load blocking your view.
· Keep three vehicle lengths away from other vehicles.
· Do not engage in horseplay.
· Be conscious of overhead clearances including pipes, sprinklers and door beams.
· Know the load limits of elevators.
· Make sure that the load never exceeds the capacity of the forklift.
· Take care that the forks are positioned properly.
· Be certain that the load is balanced and secure.
· Extend forks completely into a pallet and be certain to tilt the mast back to stabilize the load before moving.
· When lowering a load, back out and stop completely.
· Pedestrians always have the right of way.
· Keep the fork low.
· When moving, keep unloaded forks as low as possible, but high enough to clear bumps and curbs.
· Never travel with a load raised high.
· Know the position of the forks at all times.
· Keep the load slightly tilted back.
· Obey speed limits.
· Slow down at all intersections and sound the horn at blind ones.
· Lift or lower the load when completely stopped.
· Drive to the right.
· Be alert for oil and grease spots that could cause the wheels to slip.
· Be aware of changing light conditions.
· Know where the edges of the loading dock are.
· Stop the lift completely before raising a load.
· Tilt the load forward only when over a stack or rack.
· Be certain that forks clear the pallet before turning or changing height.
· Always stack the load square and straight.
· Check behind and to the sides for pedestrians or other objects or traffic before backing up.
· When your forklift is unattended and you are within 25-feet of the truck, make sure that the load is completely lowered, neutralize the controls, and set the brake so the lift won’t move.
· Always follow established procedures when refueling the forklift.

(Next time: Vehicle Maintenance)

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