Operating a forklift is risky business, even for the most cautious and skilled forklift drivers. Add poor decisions or reckless behavior and that risk increases tenfold.
So, how can a manager recognize increased safety risks when an employee shows signs of complacency or recklessness? Here are a few hints and solutions.
3 signs a forklift operator might pose a safety risk
1) Operator seems to lack training
Many forklift accidents are due to human error. If you have an untrained or poorly trained driver, who may also drive too fast for their capabilities, an impact is highly likely.
But, all operators need reminders. They need to be retrained and have best practices reinforced on an ongoing basis. A system that provides this support helps prevent operator complacency, a common reason behind operator errors, impacts and associated repair costs.
2) Operator acts like there are no consequences
If your company is struggling to reduce forklift accidents, consider the role of accountability in driving behavioral change. A driver who knows his every turn is being monitored is automatically much less likely to make or repeat any mistakes.
Some telematics systems offer operator report cards, which easily determine who is driving recklessly and ignoring safety protocols.
3) Operator is experienced, but seems distracted or complacent
Even the best-trained drivers can become complacent. Repetitive work often makes a driver forget that danger is always present and safety procedures should never be skipped.
Requiring successfully completed safety checklists for a vehicle to operative prevents common safety check complacency. Real-time monitoring of speed, which sounds an alarm for infractions, eliminates complacency about speed limits.
Also, without forklift monitoring, many incidents of speed and even minor impacts can go undetected. It is vital to track the actions of your fleet and operators.
Start with these 3 steps:
Step 1: Monitor your fleet and operators
Know which drivers are involved in the most incidents and any record of speeding, recklessness or poor behavior.
With fleet-monitoring telematics, any attempt to hide an accident is impossible because the system transmits detailed information about each incident, including the identity of the operator. An alarm also sounds so the driver is aware an impact has been registered.
Step 2: Take corrective action right away
Determine operator errors and the root cause of incidents immediately afterwards. Enforce safety protocol with monitoring that sounds alarms for excessive speed and requires successful completion of safety checklists for a forklift to operate. Closely monitor operator behavior and certifications to provide retraining and consequences for poor decisions.
Step 3. Improve warehouse layout
The design of your warehouse plays a role in impacts. Good visibility equals fewer accidents, so make changes to anything that decreases visibility. Identify factors like narrow aisles, poor lighting, and intersections with pedestrians and material-handling equipment.
Drivers who know they will be held accountable make better and safer choices. Installing the right forklift management system can drastically improve driver behavior and limit costly mistakes — saving you thousands, or tens of thousands, over the next year.