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People who operate forklifts understand that there are risks to driving them. And they’ve learned during training sessions what those risks are and what precautions to take to prevent them.
Four major hazards concerning forklift operation include:
• Work Environment
The great thing about forklifts is that they are so versatile. There are a variety of attachments each of which provide the lift with the ability to perform a task that it otherwise would not be able to achieve. However, when an attachment is added to the machine, it changes how the lift performs and the operator must know how to compensate for that. For example, an addition of an attachment such as carton, drum, or paper-roll clamps; rotators, or push-pull components extend the length, width and weight of a lift resulting in changes to its capacity, stability, and center of gravity.
If an attachment weighs 1,000-pounds, the capacity of the load of the lift that it carries is reduced by 1,000-pounds.
If an attachment moves the load away from the vertical face of the forks, the maximum load the lift can carry will be reduced.
Forklift operators always encounter pedestrian traffic as they perform their jobs. Such encounters can also lead to accidents. For example, if the load obstructs the view of a forklift operator, the operator turns the lift toward a pedestrian who is in front of or alongside the lift, drives too fast so that the lift can’t be stopped, is not aware of an employee in the area, or carries passengers on the lift can cause accidents.
And the work site environment can present hazards for an operator of a lift. For example, using a fuel-powered lift in a poorly, ventilated area, driving a lift in an area with ramps, crossing railroad tracks, operating on slippery floors and among dirt and gravel, and poor lighting can all cause accidents.
The combustible fuel-operated lift emits carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide that can buildup in the air of a closed environment, ramps can increase the chance of a forklift accident, railroad tracks can cause an unbalance of a load, slippery floors or dirt and gravel on the surface of which a forklift is operating can offer challenges to a driver’s safety and could result in accidents.
Experienced forklift drivers know and inexperienced drivers have learned that a number of load-carrying issues can present additional risks. These issues include:
• Unstable loads
• Loads of hazardous materials
• Carrying heavy loads with forks of a lift too high.
• Driving around loading docks.
• Carrying loads that block a lift’s operator’s view.
• Stacking and unstacking on racks
All and all, it becomes the responsibility of forklift drivers to be aware of all the hazards that can cause accidents and know what to do to ensure that catastrophes do not occur.