3 Tips for Forklift Accident Prevention in the Industrial Workplace

The Internet is loaded with tips for workplace safety, but maintaining a responsible workforce takes a lot more than passing out written guidelines to employees. Here are 3 expert steps that industrial warehouses can take to prevent accidents.

1. Require Pre-Shift Inspection of Forklifts

When using new or used forklifts, responsible forklift operation and equipment functionality maintenance are both important for a safe environment. Pre-shift inspection is necessary to help ensure the safety of the driver & other workers and lengthen the functional lifetime of the forklift.

A pre-shift inspection should assess the following:

  • Level of oil
  • Level of hydraulic oil
  • Level of power shift oil
  • Level of battery water
  • Visual assessment of battery for unsecure terminals and corrosion
  • Level of coolant water
  • Visual assessment of fan belt
  • Check parking and service brakes for adequate functionality
  • Check lights: turn, warning, tail, and head
  • Test horn
  • Hoisting mechanism: cotters, nuts, and chain bearings
  • Examine forks for alignment, cracks and wear to tips and heels
  • Test steering
  • Test hydraulic systems
  • Check tire inflation
  • Visually assess fuel, exhaust leaks and oil

Failing to inspect some of these factors can pose a serious threat to the driver and employees and is recommended to assess afterwards as well. Make sure inspection checklists are readily available to filled out, signed, and dated by the forklift operator. Additionally, before exiting, set controls to neutral and engage parking brakes.

2. Teach Proper Handling of Forklift Loads

In addition to ensuring that equipment is properly maintained, every driver must understand the dynamic risks such as shape, size and load weight changes that are involved in handling loads.

Visibility

If a load is tall, the driver might not have a clear view when driving straight. In these cases, it’s best to drive backward while constantly looking in the direction of travel. If the forklift must move forward, a spotter should be in place to direct the driver.

Load Stability

Never carry a load that (1) requires another employee to physically stabilize the load as the forklift moves or (2) exceeds the truck’s maximum capacity. One sign of an overloaded load is when the rear wheels rise during the lift. In these cases, set down the load immediately to change the lift equipment or reduce the load weight.

To maximize stability, the load should be squarely engaged and centered on the forks, resting against the backrest or vertical part of the forks. Also, the length of the forks must always be 2/3 the load length or greater and the mast must be tilted backward. As a rule of thumb, wider usually means better.

3. Assess the Workplace Floor

Not accounting for inconsistencies on the workplace floor can lead to tragic consequences such as forklifts tipping over. Be aware of slopes, weak areas, ramps, inclines and gradient changes and consider adjusting the floor for safer working surfaces.

If supervisors follow these guidelines and lead by example, there will be a reduction in risks of injury and increase in open communication. Contact us with any forklift safety questions!

About Tom Reddon

Tom has been involved in the forklift industry since 1986. He loves doing research, blogging, and speaking about forklifts. You can contact Tom on his Twitter or Google+ profiles.

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