This is the third post in a four-part series on forklift safety.
As many as 42 percent of all forklift accidents occur when the driver jumps from a tipping vehicle. The natural inclination to get away often puts the driver right in the path of the overhead guard, leading to crushing injuries to the head, neck, and back. Another 25 percent result from a forklift truck pinning an employee between the vehicle and a surface.
Such figures are compounded when an untrained driver enters the warehouse floor, unaware of the special conditions and hazards of operating a forklift truck. Or if a driver attempts to navigate a vehicle other than the one he is certified to operate. Even the most rigorous forklift safety training regimen will have limited impact on safety in your warehouse or distribution center if you cannot control which drivers are able to access which vehicles.
Bear in mind accidents caused by the unauthorized use of forklifts may also subject companies to stiff fines and are likely not covered by insurance.
So how do you stop unauthorized drivers from putting both their co-workers and the company at-large at risk?
Seek the help of technology. Vehicle access control features should be the foundation of any safety strategy. By using tools such as iButtons, barcodes, and proximity cards, you can eliminate unauthorized drivers in the workplace.
Identify solutions that are tailored to your needs. There are a variety of products on the market and each usually includes a range of features that target the overall safety performance of your forklift fleet. The Scotts Company, LLC, and a specialty chemicals company, for example, both knew controlling vehicle access was going to be a key component in their quest to improve safety and reduce facility damage as a result of forklift impacts.
- The Scotts Company, a division of Scotts Miracle-Gro, selected ImpactManager RF, a wireless monitoring system, which, among many things, limits access to certified drivers. Sixty units were mounted on the company’s mobile equipment at its manufacturing and distribution plant in Marysville, Ohio. After seeing a 75 percent drop in damages resulting from the material handling equipment, the company plans to expand its use to other locations.
- The specialty chemicals company, on the other hand, chose the the EquipManager and EquipCommand for its 145,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Newark, DE. The impact monitoring system works by installing a unit and badge reader on each vehicle, giving only certified drivers access. Since drivers gain access by using their ID badge to log in, administrators also know the identity of the driver of each forklift truck and can track even minor accidents in real time. In six months, the company reduced impacts by 73 percent.
The risk of letting untrained or unauthorized drivers operate your forklift trucks should not be worth taking. Even if unauthorized driving is strictly prohibited, you cannot prevent someone from making a poor spur-of-the-moment decision to do it anyway unless you have the technological tools to do so. Take the uncertainty out of the equation by never giving untrained employees an opportunity to make a potentially fatal mistake.