The great benefit of having a narrow aisle storage system is that it grants more storage rooms for goods and materials to be stacked.
But it is not without a disadvantage – it requires an electric forklift such as a reach truck or order picker to be driven in much tighter aisle width.
And there are hazards associated with operating an electric forklift in narrow aisles. You would not want to get into an accident because safety has to come first so it would be necessary to know more about these risks.
Here are the major and minor hazards of forklift operation in narrow aisles:
Untrained forklift operator he himself posts serious risk
One cannot drive an electric forklift if he used to operate one type of machine, let’s say an LPG-powered truck. Specific training for electric forklift must be given to the worker that addresses the specifics of its unique operation.
If the address is not familiar with an electric forklift, he needs to be certified first on that. The training can be completed in less than a day. You can contact the nearest training provider in your area for the arrangement of training.
Maneuvering itself is a risky undertaking
It is true whether you have a standard-size or narrower aisle. Maneuvering is a risky undertaking for operators to do. Since a forklift is not being driven just like a vehicle does, the back end of the machine veers wide during a turn, anyone nearby could be hit by the truck during maneuvering.
Or with just a momentary loss of focus of the operator, he could knock the shelves and bring down the entire racking system. I know you’ve seen the video already. If not yet, see the video here.
Speedy driving in the narrow aisle is very dangerous
Just like speeding in the highway with your car, speed either kills or causes damage. The exact same thing could happen in forklift when driven in a narrow aisle. Although you may say that it is slow-moving but with the weight and momentum as it moves, it could cause serious harm to other people they get run over or damage to other vehicles when plough into those things.
Pay attention to the surrounding, never ever drive the truck at high speed. Narrow aisle should be given due respect.
The load being carried also posts serious hazard, why:
First, it creates a blind spot for the operator. When working in proximity with pedestrians, it far more helpful to use a spotter to guide through the way and caution incoming foot traffic of the passing-by forklift.
Forklift operators can manage blind spots if it cannot be avoided, slow down or drive in reverse for better visibility or always have a buddy to help you through the narrow aisles.
The other thing that could help you in blind spots is by installing safety mirrors in the workplace. Safety mirrors are a good addition to every workplace as it adds more visibility in key locations. You may recommend this to your supervisor if you think you’re having problems in blind spots.
The second reason is that if the load is off-balanced when being lifted or carried, it can become unstable. Such situation is worse when making a turn or when the load is raised to the highest position.
The arrangement on the pallet, weight and size of the load affects the stability. To know more about the capacity the truck can carry, see its data plate.
The Pedestrian themselves post hazard
It is no surprise that people and other workers can post hazards in such area. Machines and people don’t mix, it is always the machine that wins. But pedestrian traffic is part of everyday life in the warehouse. It is impossible not get near the forklift.
Good thing, technology has something to offer to reduce hazards and the likelihood of accidents. Nowadays, sensors can be fitted to the forklift so that it activates the traffic lights installed in the area, cautioning pedestrians that the truck is approaching in their direction.
Debris and garbage in the aisles – in short poor housekeeping
Well, we all know we need to keep the workplace neat and clean at all times. It is important to conduct regular housekeeping so that tools, chemicals, garbage don’t litter in the workplace.
One such example that poor housekeeping posts hazard when oil flow in the narrow aisle floor surface, when the truck pass, the tire may lose grip, and you know what will happen.
Poor housekeeping is an unsafe condition that must be addressed immediately.
Hazards Analysis and Risk Assessment Can be Done to Ensure Safety
Hazards analysis and risk assessment are a useful tool in eliminating hazards in the workplace. Actually, these are simple methods that you or the safety officer does to measure risk or hazard prior to commencing work.
The idea behind doing this is to identify the dangers and peril conditions that could harm and evaluate the risk associated with that hazard and see to it if it can be reduced or eliminated.
If you think you want to have a risk analysis done in your workplace, request that to the safety officer or have a professional do it for you.
Conduct Toolbox Talk to Forklift Operators Regularly
Another nifty thing you can do to reduce risk and hazard in operating an electric forklift in narrow aisles and other tight environment is by conducting a toolbox talk.
We used to conduct meetings in the morning prior to every shift. We have a schedule of topics in advance every week tackling the small basic and simple issue to the most serious ones.
We do toolbox talk as if we’re just talking to the workers in a casual way. We don’t use any technical terms that could cause confusion to them. A toolbox talk is useful to send information across to the workers so that they become safety conscious.
If I were you, you can recommend having this in your workplace if nobody is doing this yet. It only takes about 5-10 minutes to do this and it has a beneficial effect – reduction of the accident.
To Make a Finalization
An electric forklift is a versatile type of truck, it can be operated in various places such as in narrow aisles or confined spaces.
Because of hazards and risks are we want to reduce in any way possible, it is therefore important to know the different hazards associated with operating an electric forklift in narrow aisles and how to lessen them.
We deserve to work in a safe environment!