In almost every warehouse, shipping outlet, and construction site, you will find a forklift in use. Forklifts are one of the most useful pieces of equipment on most job sites and one of the most commonly found industrial vehicles.
Seeing that they are so common, forklifts are also a common source of workplace injury due to improper use, improper maintenance, unsafe environment and operational error. According to The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, there are individuals killed and injured every year by forklift accidents.
Operators must understand how to operate and maintain forklifts safely. Here are five essential safety recommendations from industry experts for forklift operation.
1. Get Certified
Most on the job forklift injuries can be traced back to one simple thing – improper training. In Ontario, you do not need a forklift licence to operate a forklift. However, all operators require certification before they can operate a forklift.
This certification covers hazard awareness, basic safety operation and operator responsibilities and docking a load safely. Most companies offer complete training courses like lift truck operator training program and also provide training updates, which are required every three years.
2. Maintain Visibility
Loads are carried on the front of a forklift, making visibility difficult if you have a full load. Keep forks low to the ground to provide clear visibility or drive the forklift in reverse so you can see where you are going.
Make eye contact with nearby workers and pedestrians and always wear proper reflective safety clothing so you can be easily seen.
3. Understand How To Operate Your Vehicle
It is crucial to know the capacity of your forklift and what you can safely carry. Never haul goods that are heavier than the counterweight of your forklift. This weight imbalance can cause instability and cause your vehicle to tip over.
Be sure you are aware of the size and turning style of your forklift so you can operate it safely in your environment. Avoid tight turns and always be mindful of the forklifts centre of gravity. Understand the use of rear brakes on a forklift and how heavy loads can make them difficult to manoeuvre.
Sit and maintain a comfortable driving position in the vehicle and make sure you can see properly. Consider installing a safety device called stand up reach truck rear post to prevent override, which is a cause of many forklift injuries.
4. Check your Vehicle Daily
It is essential to do a thorough inspection of your forklift before use every day. This daily inspection makes sure the forklift is adequately maintained and that any wear or required repair is dealt with right away. You should never operate a vehicle in need of repair. Operating equipment that is unsafe puts you and your fellow employees at risk.
5. Don’t Carry the Load too High
Approximately 42% of significant forklift incidents are caused by vehicle tip over. Tip-over can be caused by moving too fast, or upsetting the centre of gravity when carrying a load too high. Carry loads with the forks as low as possible or tilted upwards to help maintain balance. Be sure to secure loads properly.
These five industry expert tips on forklift safety will help keep your worksite safe, efficient and operational.
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