Forklift operators face the risk of serious injury, or even death, every day. But your drivers probably do not have this foremost in their minds. People get used to the risk of their occupation.
That is why safety reminders, like National Safety Month, serve the warehouse industry so well. Reminders combat complacency.
And perhaps everyone thinks they know the basics for forklift safety, but you might be letting some of the foundational steps for safe operation slip through the cracks. Complacency sneaks in.
Here are some key elements to basic forklift safety in a warehouse:
1. Operators should be trained and certified for the truck they are using.
Drivers using trucks they are not trained to operate can result in costly accidents. Deploy a telematics system that equips forklifts with an identification-card reader, limiting vehicle access to appropriately trained operators.
- Operator certifications can be required before an operator can use a particular vehicle model.
- The vehicle can be locked out if the operator is not in compliance.
2. Operators should wear safe, appropriate work clothing.
Require that operators wear the appropriate safety work wear; usually consisting of a hard hat, safety shoes and high-visibility jackets. Work clothes should be well-fitted since loose clothing can get caught on machinery.
3. Require proactive safety planning and safety checklists.
Operators must complete a thorough safety checklist before driving lift-trucks. Telematics can lock the vehicle if it fails a safety check. Items to include on the list are any deficits with brakes, steering, controls, warning devices and tires.
- Telematics software can include a safety report card, which provides a holistic view of completed safety checklists and maintenance, operators’ behavior, and any near-misses.
- If there are any issues, the forklift should not be operated until it is repaired. This where telematic lockout/tagout is invaluable.
- Operators should be trained to consider the ‘journey’s end’ of a load before picking it up. A convenient position of a load at pick-up may not be convenient for stacking.
4. Be certain loads are stable before moving.
This is a big one. Loads should always be checked carefully for stability before moving them.
- Ensure each load is tilted back with the forks sitting low during transport. This increases truck stability.
- Operators should always check for any objects overhead before lifting or stacking loads.
- If a load looks unstable it should not be moved. Operators should also know the limits of the pallet racking systems to avoid overloading them.
- Securing a load, using ropes or bindings, should be considered.
About 70% of all forklift accidents can be avoided with proper training, insight and processes. Avoiding even just one work-related injury could save your organization $38,000 in direct expenses and $150,000 in indirect costs. It can also save lives, which is of course, priceless.