How To Operate A Forklift Safely

Forklifts are the backbone of the equipment industry, but they are also one of the most dangerous, with thousands of forklift truck accidents occurring every year. When operated unsafely they can present dangers to both the operators and those nearby, making it vital that workers are fully trained and know how to operate a forklift safely. These accidents typically occur due to the driver’s error and so it is therefore necessary that greater emphasis is placed on forklift truck training to reduce such mishaps. It is estimated that 70% percent of forklift accidents could be prevented with proper training!

Forklift Safety Tips

Safety guidelines should be in place at all times, when handling load, unloading and travelling.

There are a number of things to consider when it comes to forklift safety such as safety equipment, physical hazards and the operating environment for the Forklift. Here are just a few of the key areas that we’ve focused on:

Regular Safety Inspections

Carrying out regular safety inspections is key to ensure the safe running of any forklift. Operators are taught during operator training the importance of pre-use safety checks, and how to properly examine a forklift before use. The inspections should bring to light any signs of excessive wear, problems or faults, and if any are found the forklift should not be used again until repairs have been carried out by a professional.

Permatt can provide you with contracts that cover your Servicing and Breakdown needs for every type of forklift truck machinery. Carrying out the servicing and maintenance of a forklift truck takes little to no time, and if it does happen to need extra care then we can happily provide a replacement truck for your company use until we get your original up and running once more!

Wear The Correct Clothing For Forklift Operation

Whether you’re operating a forklift truck inside or outside of a building, you must follow the safety regulations and rules set by your company – this would normally involve wearing visibility clothing for example. Not only should you wear protective and reflective clothing – you should also wear comfortable, waterproof workwear when operating your truck outdoors. Operators should have access to personal protective clothing, including a hard hat, safety shoes, hi-vis jacket, and tight fitting clothing. Wearing the correct clothing for forklift operations will help to ensure the safety of the operator, helping to prevent any potentially fatal accidents or serious injury from occurring.

Travel At Correct Speed For Forklift’s Environment

Driving at the correct speed for the forklift’s environment is also essential in order to ensure both the operator and anyone nearby remains safe. Forklift operators should always keep to the speed limit,  and in busier working environments the permissible speed can drop to as slow at 3mph. Forklifts are also harder to stop as they only have one set of brakes, at the front, whereas a car has brakes at both the front and rear, so it’s vital to maintain a safe stopping distance from other operatives and vehicles at all times. Any corners or turns should be taken slowly and the horn should be used to warn pedestrians that you’re approaching.

Maintain Full Concentration When Operating a Forklift

When operating a forklift truck it is vital that you pay full attention and follow any worksite rules or guidelines. Ensure to observe any signs, low ceilings, exclusion zones, loading bays and so on. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings, knowing where any bays, ramps and docks are so they can be safely avoided. If the operator is distracted or not paying full attention it can cause them to have a delayed response to the surrounding environment or a lapse in judgement, which could lead to serious injuries. It’s also important to know the area well, and be aware of any bumps, lumps, uneven surfaces or slippery ground, as if the operator is oblivious to these it can lead to serious accidents and injuries. Maintaining good visibility is also key. If the weather is bad and affecting the ability to see, stop driving. Additionally the load should be positioned so that the operator can clearly see where they’re going at all times.

Safely Asses Load On Forklift Before Use

One of the most common causes of forklift accidents is unsafe loads. Before manoeuvring the forklift it’s important to ensure the load is stable and secure, as loads that are unevenly balanced, unsecured, or too heavy or too high can cause the vehicle to tip over. Tip-overs are a common occurrence in the workplace and are among one of the leading causes of deaths and severe injuries of forklift operators.

We’ve pulled together just a few rules that will help employees to operate a forklift safely:

  • The load should sit low whilst the forklift is moving
  • Do not overload the forklift – always check the maximum capacity of the forklift that you’re using. This will vary depending on the type of forklift you are using!
  • Use security measures such as rope or binding to secure the load
  • Do not push a load with the forks
  • Use palettes or skid to balance the load
  • Always check the load before moving off
  • The load should be tilted slightly back, towards the forklift
  • Loads should be correctly stacked and spread across both forks

Keep Forks In Correct Position

It’s important to ensure the forks are in the correct position at all times, whether the vehicle is moving or not. When driving the forks should be positioned high enough to clear the terrain but not high enough that it can hit someone or something. The fork arms should be just below the front axle of the forklift and should be as close to the ground as possible – however if they are too low they can scrape the floor surface! When travelling with a load the mast of the forklift should be tilted backwards, which makes it more secure whilst transporting.

The forks also need to be in the correct position even when the vehicle isn’t moving. The parking brake should be set, forks lowered, and any controls set to neutral when finished operating. Safely parked machines help to reduce the chance of unintended movement when the forklift is left unattended, thus reducing potential forklift related accidents.

Are You Interested in Forklift Training?

Here at Permatt we provide maintenance and breakdown services, along with offering forklift training courses based from our depot in Killingworth, Tyne and Wear. If you’re looking for a team of experienced and dedicated people to train your employees to the highest possible standard, then don’t hesitate to contact Permatt today.

We also provide forklifts nationwide! Offering a range of both new and used forklift trucks.

If you’re interested in any of our other services you can also contact us today for further information 0191 216 5320.

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