There is no place as dangerous as the warehouse when working with forklift. The workplace is confined, there’s not much room to manoeuvre the equipment.
Forklift operation in the warehouse should be done with utmost attention. One of the most important concerns that should be prioritized always when dealing with forklifts in the warehouse is safety.
But unfortunately, safety is something is still disregarded by the forklift operators and even supervisors themselves.
Below are some of the important facts to follow to make sure forklift operation in the warehouse is safe and done correctly. You may or may still not know these, but it is still good basis to maintain health and safety in the warehouse.
#1 - Use the correct type of forklift for the job in the warehouse
Electric forklift is the most appropriate to use indoor since it doesn’t emit smoke and carbon monoxide. A forklift with good turning radius is also suited for operation in the warehouse; it can easily be manoeuvred in narrow corridors and turned to avoid warehouse racking from being knocked.
The other consideration you have to take is the height of the shelves and racks you have in the warehouse. This will determine if you will need a reach truck or an order picker for the job.
Do you intent to operate the truck indoor, outdoor or both? The suited type of forklift to use outdoor is the combustion engine. It packs more punch when it come to power it generates, thus it can lift heavier loads. Electric ones are appropriate for indoor use but they don’t give more lifting power, just as mentioned, reach truck and order picker are suited for this operation.
Oh, find out also how heavy the merchandise and goods you have to regularly move in the warehouse. Finding the right kind of truck to handle those loads is the most crucial aspect to consider when you’re buying for a forklift. You would not want to buy a forklift that has less lifting capacity.
Talk to the manufacturer or its advisor to know which truck is suited in your workplace, they would gladly give a professional advice.
Using a forklift that is not suited for the job is a safety concern so ensure you have the right one in your warehouse.
#2 - Wear appropriate warehouse attire and personal protective equipment
Know the company’s rule regarding warehouse attire and wearing of PPEs. Forklift operators need to feel comfortable at work, they may wear a loose attire to feel cosy while working. Tight fit clothes are not appropriate. Coveralls are provided by the company, this kind of clothing is suited for a warehouse kind of job.
Safety glasses and face shields may be required in accordance to company policy. If it so, you must wear these protection at all times throughout your shift. These protections are good to protect your eyes from foreign object which common in a warehouse setting.
Forklift operators may also be required to wear safety shoes with steel soles. Such shoes give them additional protection especially when the operators are working with heavy objects (well, sometimes manual lifting may be necessary) and at risk of heavy falling objects.
Hard hats are essential piece of safety attire. Just like the safety shoes, it gives additional defence from falling objects. The upper torso especially the head is very vulnerable to falling objects. Wearing of hard hats is required if there’s a high risk falling object hazard in the warehouse.
It is the employer’s obligation to provide PPEs to their workers. Workers may also provide for their own use as long as they ensure its maintenance and adequacy for the job.
#3 - Observing the proper speed limit while travelling
The company must incorporate the forklift speed limit in their safety policy to have control of the transportation. The goal of setting a speed limit in the warehouse is to prevent accidents such as tip over and over turn when the operator accelerates too much and brake to a sudden stop.
Placement of maximum speed traffic signs in different locations of the warehouse is one of way to mitigate this hazard. Everyone must be informed of the speed limit in the workplace and everyone are expected to adhere to it.
It is generally acceptable to have a speed limit of 20 km per hour in the outdoor and 10 km per hour in the indoor where forklifts are being operated in close proximity with the pedestrians.
Determining of the speed limit in the workplace depends on several factors such as the type of forklift being driven in the warehouse, forklifts of different types vary in size and weight. These characteristics should be considered in determining the maximum speed limit in warehouse. The heavier the machine, the lower the speed it should be driven.
The another factor that could be taken into consideration in determining the speed limit is the construction of racking and shelves themselves. When they are constructed closed to each other, the space between in which the forklift can be driven is tight, there is not much room to safely accelerate the equipment.
Obstacles and visibility should also be taken into account as well. Obstacles such as ramps may be prevalent in the workplace. The higher the inclination of the ramp, the lesser the forklift should pass on it. Poor visibility and lighting also plays a role in the speed limit, the dimmer the workplace, the slower speed the forklift should be travelled.
#4 – Always practice good housekeeping
Warehouse housekeeping when done regularly can bear great benefits. With so much activities going on in a warehouse, warehouse has a higher risk of accident occurrence among other workplaces. This workplace should have regular housekeeping, the more frequent, the lesser risk for accidents to happen.
To maintain safety and health, cleanliness should be observed. Housekeeping is more than just sweeping the floor or taking out the rubbish at the end of the work shift.
Aisles and passageways should be cleared from any obstruction. Remove pallets and other materials in passageways or in other areas where people used to walk. It creates trip hazards. Any materials that are one the passage ways are a trip hazard. Clean up any spills of oils and water, report uneven surfaces of the passageway so that it can be repaired are the action to take to prevent accident.
We never know when emergency situation will happen, exits and entrances should always cleared from any obstacles so that people and vehicles can easily pass through it.
When I was working in Saudi Arabia, every Thursday at 4pm is the regular housekeeping schedule. Everyone including the top management are required to participate in the activity. Workers in the construction site, warehouses and everyone on our camp are participating. Housekeeping is a great way to keep the surrounding orderly and clean.
Are you implementing housekeeping in your company?
#5 - Create safety awareness among employees
One of the simplest ways to create safety awareness that can easily be put into action is the placement of safety signs around the warehouse. Safety signs are great for informing the workers of the possible hazards involved in a particular location or work process in the workplace.
The employer has a legal responsibility to the forklift operators – that is the provision of training in a regular interval. The operators need to understand the health and safety in the warehouse. To deliver the knowledge to them, safety training is regular given to the workers to keep them updated of the present laws and regulation relating to forklift operation. Safety training is a good way also to rectify their bad behaviour, hence, those workers involved in an accident must undergo a training to make them recognized of the mistakes they have taken contributing to the accidents.
There are many other possible approaches to create safety awareness to the workers depending on the present requirements of the warehouse.
What were the ways you’ve implemented already to create safety awareness in the warehouse? Were they enough or still in need of improvement? I’ll leave to you the answer.
#6 - Provision of regular forklift operator training
Forklifts have long been essential to workers in the warehouse. Forklifts make the work much easy and efficient. However, when driven by an untrained operator, forklifts can become a serious danger to the operator and others. Anyone who is tasked to handle the truck must be properly trained and certified first operating it. Only those personnel who have been educated to drive it can handle the truck, if you haven’t received any training, do not touch it. Forklift operation in warehouse is no joke, it should be performed by someone who is competent to operate the machine.
#7 - Inspection should be done prior to operation
Nothing is much more secure than to have a forklift in excellent working condition. This can be done by regularly inspecting the machine prior to operation. Forklift operation in the warehouse requires equipment to be in tip top state to ensure safe and efficient operation.
Forklift operators have the responsibility to keep the truck in good operational condition. If the machine wasn’t maintain there is a big potential that it cause serious accidents, injuries and even death during operation in the warehouse.
Forklift inspection can be done daily or before every shift, if it being utilized around the clock. The more frequent the inspection is to be done, the better performance the forklift will be in.