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With the arrival of warmer summer weather, working outdoors on a forklift can be more appealing. But it’s important that operators not allow sunshine and fresh air to distract them from forklift safety. Working with heavy equipment can be dangerous all year round.
The Fork Lift Truck Association, an advisory council on forklift safety in the UK, has compiled a list of essential safety tips every operator should know before using their forklifts outdoors in the summer weather:
1.Use the appropriate forklift — As a general rule, warehouse equipment isn’t designed to be used outdoors. Before you bring a forklift outdoors, make sure that it is approved for yard work. If you’re not sure, check the owners’s manual or consult the manufacturer’s website.
2. Keep it clean — A messy work space is a dangerous work whether it is indoors or outdoors. Simple items such as loose planks of wood can tip a forklift over, potentially resulting in injury to the operator.
3. Inspect the worksite — Make sure the yard surface itself is well maintained. Potholes that are formed by the extreme cold and heat are a common cause of tipping accidents.
4. Make weight — Before you take a forklift truck into the back of a truck, check that it is secure and stable. Can it handle the combined weight of the forklift and the load it is carrying?
5. Beware of inclines — Gradients of any kind can be dangerous to forklifts. Avoid them whenever possible. If you can’t, go straight up or down, never sideways.
6. Pace yourself — Crossing open spaces makes it tempting to hit the gas. Don’t do it and don’t let other operators do it either if you value your safety.
7. Careful on corners — Steer gently! Even at low speeds, a sharp turn can tip your forklift over.
8. Stay in the zone — Try to keep forklifts, trucks and pedestrians separated with designated traffic lanes for each, warning signs and enforcement of the rules.
9. Be flashy — Flashing lights and warning beepers are always a good idea. But keep in mind that they also can be a distraction.
10. Great vision — It’s important that you always are able to see where you are going. So if you can’t see forward, travel in reverse or get somebody to help guide you.
11. Don’t get fumed — If you are a using a diesel-powered forklift in a confined space such as a container or trailer, be careful not to let dangerous fumed build up. Aerate the space properly and use fans, if necessary, to clear fumes out before they cause you to choke.
12. Maintain order — Make sure all of your forklifts and other equipment are always properly maintained. This will not only help prevent accidents and breakdowns, but it will extend their useful life.
A PDF poster version of these summer forklift safety tips is available by clicking here.