Now that you have completed your forklift training and obtained your certification, it is now time for you to learn forklift safety. Many operators think that getting certified is the end of the process. They are wrong! Operators need to practice safety in the workplace at all times when started working for a company.
There are many hazards that post threats to your safety at work. Work process is a never ending practice. The best way to protect yourself or your workers is to undertake a safety training periodically. The more frequent it is, the better you can protect yourself.
This section tackles how you can be safe every time you are working with forklift. You can browse the different subjects included in this page. We have prepared the information and explained the details for easy understanding. Anyway, you can read on to check how safety and health could help you be productive and away from danger.
Determining the Type of TruckYou Want to Get Trained To Will Enhance Forklift Safety Awareness
This is why before you delve into getting certified driving fork truck, you need to identify what truck you are intending to operate. The course must be specific to the type of forklift you want to get certified on. During the training course, the safety trainer will spend a lot of time discussing about health and safety.
Each type has its own operating controls and characteristics. For example, an electric forklift has different recharging procedure, operating purpose and intended function from gas-powered trucks. Electric is commonly found indoors, while gas powered is intended for use outdoors. Working inside the warehouse is not the same as working outside. Warehouse is tight and confined, forklift operators may encounter many hazards such as near misses, property damage incidents, and many others. While working outdoors, where there are more operating space, these risks can be not present but other risks still persist like environment/weather condition exposure (extreme heat or cold, sun exposure), vehicular accidents, noise and air pollutions.
Another example is counterbalance forklift and reach truck. Because of speed and ease of use lifting materials in pallet by counterbalance forklift, safety of the people around is at risk. Operators can load big objects that could hamper their visibility and can it carry heavy loads that can cause tip over when driven in slopes and ramps. According to OSHA regulation, if the load on a forklift blocks the forward view, the truck can be driven in reverse with clear view of the surrounding. When driving a forklift the forks should be at what height? This is the common question of driver operating forklifts. The answer is to drive with a ground clearance of 4 to 6 inches at the end of the tips of the forks, and 2 inches at the heels.
On the other hand, reach truck is commonly utilized in retail establishments the associated forklift safety concerns about its use is falling of load. Rearward collision is another risk. Such situation exists when a collision with the racking component, the component can enter operator’s compartment that could hit him, the result could be serious injury, or at the worst case scenario is fatality.
Forklift operators must be trained on the different aspects of these equipment-specific dangers.
Forklift Safety in the Workplace Must Also Be Addressed
In compliance with OSHA 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(3)(ii), forklift operator training must compose of workplace-related topics that discuss the road surface condition, foot traffic and behavior of the workers around the workplace, operation in restricted and hazardous places, ramps and slopes presents in the workplace that could affect the driving stability of the forklifts, confined areas and places where CO gas can be accumulate during operation of a gas or diesel-powered trucks, and other possible workplace hazards that could post risk to the health and safety of the operators.
But the topics to deliver don’t end there. Every workplace is different. Hazards in every workplace are diverse because of the nature of the business operation. Therefore, an employer must identify and asses them, and provide such operator safety training specific to the present dangers.
Did you know a poor workplace design and maintenance can contribute to creation forklift accidents?
- Crowded aisle with people simultaneously working in the sale place obviously is a recipe for disaster. This is when people could be hit and run over by the forklift. Safety officer, if present, can schedule a job prior to commencing another. An adequate safety and warning notices must be installed to caution the workers.
- Narrow aisle is factor of accident occurrence. The width of the aisle will depend on the forklift truck being operated in the workplace. Though there is no width standard, employer must ensure adequate clearance room. It is also important to clear it from any sharp bits and pieces that could blow the tires especially when large and heavy load is being transported.
- Obstruction and other unwanted large materials that should not be there at the intersection can post great risk also. It could introduce collision with other vehicles in the area and accident to workers unaware of the approaching forklift.
- Poor housekeeping. Housekeeping is not just about cleanliness, it means keeping the workplace organized and orderly free from hazard. When an employer does not prioritize regular workplace housekeeping, accident rate could rise affecting the productivity of the workers and profit of the business. My experience has shown that housekeeping must be an integral part of any safety program, whatever nature of business the employer is involved to.
- Other factors such as poor lighting, air and noise pollution are aspects contributing to accidents too.
Most companies cannot perform operation without forklifts, and related accident will be inevitable. Proper reporting must be implemented not to annoy the management but to properly act on it accordingly.
Forklift Safety Can Be Improved Through Accident Reporting
Regular reporting and record keeping of accidents can help employers mitigate the occurrence of the accident and lessen the potentiality of hazards in the workplace. If employer can maintain accident record, it could help them to develop risk analysis that could be integrated into their safety program.
Finding the root cause of the accident can prevent the recurrence. In such accident investigation, a 360 degree assessment must be conducted. Someone who is conducting an investigation should always determine the causes and contributing factors. Correct accident investigation can improve forklift safety and reduce business operation cost. In such accident, the investigation must answer different questions such as has the forklift operator received sufficient training and has previously been engaged in such accident, was it operator mistake or machine error, has the forklift itself involved in such accident in the past, has the truck maintained regularly, was it regularly inspected by the supervisor prior to work commencement, what topics to be delivered to involved operators to address such accident.
A safety officer of the company or a representative who is assigned to do such task, should develop a database, log or inventory of the accidents.
Here's a sample video of forklift accident:
How Forklift Operator Can Report Their Safety-Related Complaints
The forklift operators have the right to a safe workplace. It is in the employer’s accountability to provide them with such protection. If you are a worker and you believe that your employer is violating your right, you can file a complaint. If you are in the United States, you can deliver your complaint to OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). If you are situated in United Kingdom, you may contact HSE at 0345 300 9923. in Australia, forklift operators can take their concerns to nearest WorkSafe Office, you can visit their site at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au, to know more how. In Canada, the Ministry of Labour is the office answering such concern.
Other Safety Tips to Take Into Consideration
- Proper Training: All forklift operators should receive proper training and certification in operating the specific type of forklift they will be using. This training should include both theoretical and practical components, covering topics such as safe operating procedures, load handling, and emergency procedures.
- Conduct Pre-Operational Checks: Before each use, operators should conduct a pre-operational check to ensure the forklift is in good working condition and free from any defects or malfunctions. This should include checking the brakes, steering, horn, lights, and tires, among other components.
- Load Handling: It is important for operators to understand how to properly handle loads and maintain stability, particularly when driving on inclines or uneven surfaces. Overloading the forklift or placing loads in an improper manner can increase the risk of tipping.
- Visibility: Operators should always have a clear view of the area ahead of them and should avoid blocking their view with loads or other obstructions. Mirrors and backup alarms can also help improve visibility and awareness when backing up or operating in reverse.
- Speed Limit: Operators should always follow the designated speed limit for the forklift and adjust their speed based on the conditions of the work area, including the type of load, the surface they are driving on, and the presence of other personnel or equipment.
- Avoid Distractions: Distracted driving is a major hazard when operating a forklift, and operators should avoid engaging in activities such as texting, eating, or using a mobile phone while driving.
- Personal Protective Equipment: Operators should always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment, including hard hats, safety glasses, and protective footwear. In addition, hearing protection may be required for those operating in noisy environments.
- Secure Loads: It is important to properly secure loads and ensure that they are stable before moving them, as loose or unsecured loads can increase the risk of tipping or shifting during transport.
- Maintain a Safe Work Environment: Operators should always be aware of their surroundings and maintain a safe work environment, including avoiding potential hazards such as high voltage electrical cables or sharp edges. In addition, they should be familiar with emergency procedures and know how to respond in the event of an accident or equipment malfunction.
- Regular Maintenance: Regular maintenance and inspections of forklifts are important for ensuring their continued safe operation. This may include routine checks, such as replacing worn tires or brake pads, or more comprehensive inspections and repairs as needed.
These are just a few of the key points that could be included in a "forklift safety tips" article, but it is important to consult relevant regulations and standards to ensure compliance with all relevant requirements.
We all have been there and witnessed many things. It is no secret that when working with forklifts there will be hazards involved. It is impossible to eliminate them with entirety but we can mitigate the occurrence of severe accident.
Implementation of forklift safety program must be an integral part of the company. It can save you from lot of troubles and headaches.