Forklift equipment can be the cause of severe and sometimes fatal accidents in the workplace. But most forklift accidents can be prevented if you are careful to follow some basic safety principles. The following post outlines 5 tips for the safe operation of forklift equipment. Keep yourself and your fellow employees safe by implementing these practices. If you or your staff require forklift equipment training, contact the professionals at Wayco today. We can come to your facility or you can be trained at ours.
1. Make Sure that Anyone Operating Forklift Equipment Is Properly Trained
The number one safety tip for the operation of forklift equipment is to make sure that everyone in your organization that is going to be using any type of forklift is properly trained and certified before they begin. Even if a new employee has had previous forklift experience, they will still need to be evaluated by your organization to ensure that they know what they are doing. If they will be working on equipment that is different from what they used in the past, you will need to train them on the new equipment as well. If you purchase a new class of forklift, then your operators will need to be trained on the new equipment before using it.
According to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, OHSA, a certified forklift operator needs to renew their certification at least every three years. You can do that by taking an Operator Refresher Forklift Training course. For more information about getting a forklift license, check out our post entitled “6 Steps for Getting a Forklift License in Ontario.”
Some of the safety tips that should be covered in the training include:
Speed: Many forklift accidents can be attributed to excess speed. You should never travel any faster on your forklift than the speed of a person walking quickly.
Lifting Capacity: You should know the maximum lifting capacity of the forklift equipment that you are operating and never exceed it. Each forklift is designed to be used to lift up only to a certain weight, and exceeding that weight can also cause accidents.
Load Stability: A load that is piled too high or off centre can easily tip over or cause your forklift to tip, which can be extremely dangerous for you or for any pedestrians near you.
Traveling on Slopes: Traveling up or down a slope is very different from traveling on a level surface. It requires special training to ensure that your load or your forklift does not tip over.
Proper training can greatly reduce forklift accidents
2. Inspection and Maintenance
It is important that you properly inspect your forklift equipment before you begin to use it each time. This is called a Pre Shift Inspection. Performing a Pre Shift Inspection will help you identify any potential problems with the equipment that could be dangerous to you or those around you. During the inspection you will walk around your forklift and carefully check the following:
- Forks – look for well breaks
- Tires – look for chunks of missing rubber
- Piston – check to make sure there are no leaks or drips
- Hydraulic hoses – verify that there are no punctures or cuts
- Chain – make sure the tension is tight
- Carriage – check for well breaks
- Seat belt – look to see that it is in good shape
- Propane tank – make sure that it is secure and not loose
- Radiator – check for any debris or chaff stuck to it
- Emergency brake – test that it is working correctly
- Controls – make sure they are all in good repair
Once your Pre Shift Inspection has been done, if you found any item needing repair your forklift must be taken out of service and red tagged until repaired.
Always perform a Pre Shift Inspection before operating any forklift equipment
3. Pedestrians Need to Be Aware of Forklifts / Forklift Operators Need to Be Aware of Pedestrians
Forklift equipment not only poses safety hazards for their operators, but it can also be dangerous to the workers or other pedestrians in the areas around it. This is because:
- Forklifts and pedestrians are often together in close spaces: Moving forklifts and pedestrians often are present in relatively small aisles, pathways and storage areas. If these areas are not clearly marked, accidents can happen.
- Pedestrians and operators may be unaware of each other’s presence: Accidents can happen if a pedestrian is unaware or isn’t paying attention and they wander into the path of a moving forklift. Also, if operators are moving at excessive speeds or are not paying attention, then collisions are more likely to happen.
- Loads can fall over: If an operator hasn’t inserted the forks under the pallet fully, if their load is off-balance or not secure, or if they are traveling with their forks raised too high, their load may tip over and injure a pedestrian that is close by.
A Pedestrian Awareness Training program will cover the basic hazards related to forklifts. It will also cover the rules that should be followed to ensure the safety of any pedestrian in close proximity to a lifting device. A course like this is designed to help you and those who work around you reduce the risk of pedestrian-related accidents and to save lives.
Pedestrians should be trained to look out for forklifts
4. Know the Possible Fuel Hazards and Take the Proper Precautions to Prevent Them
Unless you are using manual forklift equipment, you will have safety concerns related to the type of fuel that your forklift uses.
Diesel or Gas: If your forklift has an internal combustion engine, then the diesel or gas used to power it will produce carbon monoxide. For this reasons, diesel and gas forklifts are probably not the best choice for indoor applications. Opening overhead doors, ventilation, and large spaces can help to alleviate the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning – but they do not eliminate it. If you need to use this type of forklift make sure you:
- Install the proper scrubbers on the exhaust
- Train your employees on how to recognize the signs of carbon monoxide exposure
- Refrain from running the engines in a confined space such as the back of a trailer
Propane: Propane and LPG are highly flammable. Make sure you have proper firefighting processes implemented during their use and while the tanks are being stored.
Electric: Even though electric forklifts don’t have harmful fumes to worry about, you do have to make sure that your employees have been properly trained on the correct handling of batteries, and that you have installed eye washing stations and well ventilated charging stations.
Propane is highly flammable – handle it with care
5. Make Sure Your Workplace Surroundings Are Safe
Not only should you inspect your forklift equipment itself, but you should also take a look around your warehouse or area in which your lift will be operating to make sure that it is safe as well. Things that you should be looking for and addressing include:
- Obstacles or debris that could be in the way or interfere with the safety of your forklift
- Pipe leaks or other leaks that could be dangerous
- Overhead obstacles that could come in contact with your equipment
- Unsafe of unsecured ramps that you need to travel on
- A floor that isn’t level that may cause your forklift to tip
- Aisles that are too narrow to maneuver safely
- Corners that are difficult to navigate – installing bollards or impact barriers can provide greater visibility and also protect your forklift and racks
- Designated walkways should be clearly marked and railings or safety gates installed for further protection
Bollards can stop you from hitting shelving
Contact Wayco For the Best Forklift Training Available
Wayco’s intense and comprehensive forklift safety training program will provide you and your employees with the best safety training at the best price. We offer national coverage and local service with a 98% pass rate. We can train individuals or groups at our facility or yours – you choose.
Our Safe Operation of a Lift Truck/Forklift Program is an excellent way for you to ensure forklift safety in your workplace. With our training you will experience:
- Innovative training practices
- Affordable pricing
- Flexible and professional trainers
- Comprehensive in-class and practical experience
Contact Wayco today to book your next session.
“Exceptional quality and service. Left the training class with more than I expected. Looking forward to being a repeat customer. “ – Kevin Brown
Read more testimonials here.
If you are looking for top quality forklifts, contact Wayco. We sell the best forklifts you can buy and our knowledgeable staff will be able to help you choose the perfect model that will best suit your particular applications. We will be happy to answer all of your questions and we can even provide top-notch safety training for your operators. Contact Wayco today for all of your forklift needs