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From the “Why Didn’t Anybody Think of This Before” department comes this news from the UK: Hyster has begun using red seat belts on its forklifts to help supervisors enforce seat belt use among forklift operators.
As anybody who has operated a forklift can tell you, wearing a seat belt is an absolute must for forklift safety. The constant bumps and turns drivers encounter while operating their vehicles are more akin to a bumper car than a standard automobile or truck.
So making sure operators are always snapped in to their safety belts has to be a top priority for fleet supervisors.
Red Is the New Black
Up until now, however, most seat belts were black, making it difficult — if not impossible — to tell if operators were wearing them, at least from a distance.
But the new red belts being used on both Hyster electric and internal combustion engine forklift in the UK make it easy to see if operators are wearing their seat belts properly, even from a distance.
David Rowell, product marketing manager at NACCO Materials Handling Group, said since his company has started using the new belts, it has made supervisors’ jobs much easier.
“Forklift seat belt compliance can be difficult to manage, particularly when drivers are getting on and off their trucks regularly throughout the working day,” Rowell told SHD Logistics.
Lock-Out Seat Belts
While the red seat belts will assist supervisors in monitoring their staffs, another optional feature on Hyster forklifts could eliminate the chances that drivers were not wearing their belts altogether.
“The new red belts not only help supervisors see who is wearing seat belts and address compliance issues with operators, but Hyster has also gone a step further,” Rowell said. “Operations managers can select the optional interlock system, which makes wearing the seat belt a mandatory requirement kin order for the operator to start the engine.”
The new optional Hyster interlock belt feature automatically disengages traction of the seat belt is unfastened while the forklift is being driven. The truck will decelerate to a stop until all the interlocks are once again fastened.
This provides an additional safety feature that improves the security of the work area, according to Rowell.
“The trucks will not start or operate unless the seat belt is fastened,” he said. “A warning light will appear on the dash display helping the operator to identify the cause of no traction.”
Improving Comfort and Safety
Another standard feature on Hyster forklifts, called the Emergency Locking Retractor, allows the seat belt to move freely with the driver’s movements for optimum comfort. This is especially helpful for drivers who are frequently shifting between forward and reverse.
The retractor — which is similar to those featured in many late model automobiles and trucks — automatically locks if there is any sort of instability or impact with the vehicle, helping keep the driver secure.