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When driving a forklift, it is easy to overlook the hazards that can result from turning and the vehicle’s tail swing. In this blog, we often discuss the importance of maintaining strong visibility at all times, but it is also necessary to maintain a strong knowledge of the characteristics of the lift truck, many of which are different from those of a road vehicle. In this post, we discuss the dangers of turning and tail swing and how you can safely prevent unsafe consequences associated with these fundamental aspects of forklift driving.
An overview of turning and the tail swing on the forklift
One of the most important aspects of safe forklift driving practice is the knowledge that when turning, the rear of the lift truck swings in the opposite direction from the rotation. As a result, operators must make sure that there are no pedestrians located on the opposite side of the lift truck. Forklifts steer from the rear axle and pivot off of their front wheels; moreover, the rear steering wheels of a forklift turn at an angle of close to 90 degrees, making it so that tail swing is quite severe. The effects of tail swing are particularly noticeable when traveling in narrow aisles, in which case drivers must exercise even more extreme caution. Needless to say, the unusual composition of the forklift makes it so that it is common for tail swing to be upwards of 3.5 times faster than the forward speed of the lift truck.
How can you eliminate the dangers of turning and tail swing?
In order to prevent danger from occurring, it is first important to engage the rear view mirror and be aware of noise level. Keep the fork lowered, and be sure that you are not turning on a grade. The large tail swing means that operators must begin their turn much earlier than they would while driving a road vehicle. As a result, be sure to keep the lift truck close to the inside of the turn (in other words, don’t turn from the middle of the lane), thereby allowing for plenty of room for the rear when it makes its wide turn. As the tail swing occurs, make sure to operate at a very slow speed and keep your eyes on the tail swing, making certain that it does not collide with pedestrians or other obstacles.
Tail swing is an easy way to incur a forklift-related injury, but these injuries can also be easily prevented through proper driving practice. Be mindful of the large tail swing whenever turning your lift truck, and always air on the side of caution when handling your forklift in narrow spaces.