Forklift trucks are involved in many accidents and injuries every year, but a lot of these accidents can be avoided with proper care and attention. Here’s our guide to the basic health and safety procedures for forklift truck operators.
The most basic, but absolutely essential, safety process when it comes to any equipment, machinery or vehicles is training. Make sure you only ever use a forklift truck that you are fully trained on, and only for a purpose that you are trained to carry out.
If you are not sure how to use a particular forklift attachment, complete a certain task or use a specific forklift model, then don’t just assume that you can pick it up as you go: this is where accidents can take place.
Whenever you start using a truck, give it a once-over. Make sure that it is clean, the forks are level and parallel and that the tyres/wheels are intact and undamaged. When it comes to the actual operation, before you get going, make sure that everything works as it should – lifting, lowering, steering, braking, parking brake, horn and warning light (if fitted).
In addition to your frequent pre-use checks, every forklift truck should be inspected regularly and more thoroughly by a mechanic/engineer. This is an opportunity to get ahead of any issues before they become real hazards, and ensure that the truck is working optimally.
Make sure that your company has a regularly scheduled inspection and that they are adhering to this – there should be a record of when your truck was last inspected, and by whom.
There are some super-common issues that you can work to avoid – things like trying to move unsecured loads which then fall, or unbalanced loads which can cause mis-steering or tipping of the truck, or impaired sightlines caused by the load being carried, and resulting in collisions.
Know your facility
Make sure you are familiar with your site – the speed limits, any one-direction areas, any pedestrian only areas, etc.
This can help you to stay safe by keeping within the expected boundaries for forklift trucks and pedestrians and other truck drivers will know exactly what to expect as they move about.
Use safety features
Make sure you do not overload your truck – there should be a maximum load capacity for each truck model available to you: be sure not to exceed it. Make use of built-in safety features like seatbelts and horns – they are there for the safety of everyone on the site.
Many collisions, both with machinery/stock and with pedestrians, can be avoided entirely by adding in a few external safety features to your site.
Suggest things like pedestrian walkway barriers, low-level barriers for machinery and stock aisles (as well as corner pieces to prevent impacts when turning), and signage that clearly informs everyone on site that certain areas have forklift traffic and that they should act with caution.