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One of the most dangerous things you can do with a forklift is to park it. Forklifts that are parked improperly are just an accident waiting to happen.
A forklift operator who gets out of a parked forklift that hasn’t been properly secured is in danger of being run over by his own vehicle. Similarly, a forklift that is parked on a ramp or incline without the parking brake being set could easily become a runaway bullet weighing that weighs tens of thousands of pounds.
One of the first lessons of forklift safety is how to properly park a forklift. Here are six essential steps to preventing accidents involving parked forklifts.
Where You Park Matters
Gravity is one of the biggest dangers to forklift operators. Parking on a ramp, incline, or on an uneven surface can cause the forklift to roll on its own. If the surface is steep enough, the vehicle’s parking brakes may not be enough to stop it from rolling.
Rule 1: Park on a level surface whenever possible. If you must park on a non-level surface, use chucks under the forklift’s tires to prevent it from rolling.
Rule 2: Put the forklift in neutral. Unlike cars or trucks, forklifts don’t have a “Park” gear. When you are getting out of your vehicle, take it out of forward or reverse and leave it in neutral.
Rule 3: Set the parking brake. The parking brake must be set every time you get out of the vehicle, even if it is just for a few moments.
You can test the parking brake to make sure it is working properly by setting it, then putting the vehicle into either forward or reverse gear and stepping on the gas pedal slightly. If the vehicle doesn’t move, it’s safe. If it moves a little, try pushing the parking brake down further.
The Safety of Co-Workers
Drivers need to consider the safety of co-workers as well as themselves when parking their vehicles.
Rule 4: Straighten the wheels. When turning off your forklift, make sure the wheels are not turned. If they are, when the next driver jumps into the vehicle and steps on the accelerator, the forklift could jump in an unexpected direction.
Rule 5: Always lower the forks when parking. If you leave the forks up and walk away from the vehicle, another employee may not see them and could get clotheslined by the steel forks.
Rule 6: Turn off the forklift. This is an important safety step because most forklifts are designed not to move if the engine is turned off, even if the vehicle is in forward or reverse gear. To be doubly sure, remove the key from the ignition prior to exiting the forklift.
Where and how you park your forklift can make a big difference in improving the safety of your workplace.