Driving a Forklift can be incredibly useful when working in the warehouse as it can speed up productivity and use time effectively. On the other hand, if training is not sufficient and you don’t handle the forklift properly, it can be extremely dangerous. According to the Health and Safety authority, 24% of work related accidents are caused by misconduct of forklifts, and this can be due to its size and incredibly heavy load.
Before you go anywhere near a forklift, the first thing you should be checking is yourself. Firstly, make sure you’re not wearing anything slippery i.e. dry shoewear with a good grip and no wet or oily hands that could cause slipping and thus lose control on the steering wheel.
After that, you must ensure you are wearing the appropriate clothing to protect yourself and others. Along with the shoes just mentioned, having a hard hat to protect your skull, tight fitting clothes to prevent any clothing material getting caught and jammed into the machine, and wearing a hi-vis jacket to make yourself highly visible to everyone on site, are all extremely important and is the minimum clothing equipment required when operating with forklifts.
After you check yourself, the next logical step is to check the forklift you are planning on using. Ensuring that the machinery you are using is working properly is an essential step to safe working. The most important elements you should inspect are the brakes, steering wheel, the controls, the warning device, the mast, and finally, the tyres. In addition to checking these parts, extra elements should also be checked such as adjusting the tilt to suit the gradient, and raising the forks to clear the ground so the pallets you want to use are in good condition. If you see that anything is faulty, you must get it repaired immediately by a specialist. Under no circumstances should you be operating with a machine with faulty parts. It is also best practice to log machine faults when you check them to show that you are complying to safety regulations.
Now that you and your forklift are set up, the next step is to assess your surrounding area. Take note of any risks and hazards like a pedestrian suddenly appearing out of nowhere, any obstacles, wire or cables on the ground that should be cleared, high ceilings, or narrowness of hallways. You should always make sure your path is free and has no obstacles stopping you as you must be prepared to slow down or stop when you are driving near someone near a wall or door and when making sharp turns at blind corners.
According to Health and Safety Training Limited, unsecured loads is a leading factor in most forklift accidents. You want to avoid the load from being too heavy, imbalanced, and not secured properly to prevent the forklift from tipping and cause any nasty accidents. To prevent such a disaster from happening, always make sure that your load is slightly tipped towards the forklift and that the weight of the load is spread evenly across both forks. Wrapping them securely with a rope or straps is also a good way they ensure that they won't move. You should also make sure that once you lift the load, your view is not obstructed when trying to maneuver. Your visibility is highly important! If it does obstruct your view then it is best practice to drive in reverse and always making sure you are looking into the direction you are driving. Assessing the weight, volume and height of the load and comparing this with the weight of the laden forklift will also be very handy to know when trying to lift the load safely. Finally, any loads should be carried as close to the ground as possible to maintain maximum control and so reduce chances of accidents.
Just as mentioned before, maintaining high visibility is extremely important as obstruction of your view is not only dangerous for yourself, but it’s also dangerous for everyone around you. The previously stated advice of checking that your load doesn't obstruct your view and carrying it as low to the ground as possible is an excellent way to ensure high visibility. Traveling in reverse is also okay if the load is indeed too large to drive forwards safely, so long as you look into the direction you are traveling and not reversing up any ramps. Evaluating the weather and assessing whether it’s a good idea to proceed with forklift driving is also very good practice before starting, since heavy rain and winds can be hazardous.
Finally, it’s also okay to get someone outside to assist you and guide you as you travel with the forklift to ensure you are traveling safely with no hazardous objects near you.
Now that you know how important and useful it is to know how to drive your forklifts safely, here are our tips on this subject.
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