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The mast is one of the most dangerous components of the forklift. The OHSA now requires that all forklift operators must not place their arms and legs between the uprights of it, yet this does not prevent all related forklift injuries from occurring. Because many forklifts, particularly those in which the operator stands up while driving, place the operator within reach of the mast, operators are often tempted to reach through it. It is important to recognize signs of malfunction before they occur, carefully inspecting the forklift before operating it. In this post, we review what you need to do to ensure that your mast remains effective and not the cause for a major workplace accident.
In the event that the mast gets jammed while it is raised, be sure to keep your hands away from it. Instead, use a wooden panel to access the mast. When parking the forklift, make sure that the forks are elevated on a large support, as this will keep the mast from dropping. It is also crucial that one be thorough when inspecting it. Pay close attention to flaking in the material, and it is also of great importance that the bearings do not lodge into the rail. The mast should be able to freely move up and down, as well as tilt forward.
One of the common issues that tends to occur is mast drift. As the name would suggest, it occurs when the mast moves about, and can vary from a drop of just a few inches to more drastic movement. In extreme cases, the mast will fall all the way down to the floor. There are several common causes for the problem, including issues with the mast structure itself, problems with the lift cylinder, and malfunction with the oil control valve. If there is a scraping noise when the mast moves, this tends to suggest that a physical problem exists. Alternately, if the drift is concentrated in the cylinders, this indicates that the lift cylinder is the cause. Finally, if you notice heavy amounts of oil leaking, this indicates that the oil control valve is to blame.
Mast safety is a crucial aspect of proper forklift safety practice. All forklift warehouses should have a clear procedure for documenting mast issues and repairing them. Through careful attention, you can ensure that the forklift remains in strong working condition and injuries are prevented.