Operator Safety Tips
Safety is everyone's responsibility and you don't need expensive computer gadgetry to be safe operating a forklift.
Using a forklift safely isn't difficult, but judging by the number of accidents each year (there were 53 fatal forklift accidents in the UK between 1997 & 2001) too many of us cut corners. Even the gadgets aren't making that much of an impact.
Nearly three quarters of all accidents involving pedestrians occur when the truck is moving forwards. And despite what you might expect, less than a third of fatalities are caused by overturning.
That means that it's basic operating procedures that are being broken and bad practice, horseplay and human error are largely to blame.
It's worth then, reminding yourself of the rules:
- Only properly trained and authorized personnel should operate forklift trucks. Wear a hard hat and safety shoes and try to avoid wearing loose fitting clothing.
- Inspect and check the condition of your forklift truck using the operator's check list before starting work. Report any obvious defects or required repairs immediately.
- Don't operate your truck in unauthorized areas. Know your forklift truck and think safety. Do not compromise safety. Follow all safety rules and read all warning signs.
- Do not operate a lift truck unless you are in the operator's seat. Keep arms, legs and head inside the confines of the operator's area. Keep hands and feet out of the mast assembly.
- Do not start, stop, turn or change direction suddenly especially at speed. Sudden movement can cause the lift truck to tip over. Slow the speed of your truck and use the horn near corners, exits, entrances, and near people.
- Never operate a lift truck with wet hands or shoes. Never hold any controls with grease on your hands. Your hands or feet may slide off of the controls and cause an accident!
- Do not raise anyone on the forks of your lift truck unless using an approved safety cage. Do not let other people ride on the truck. Lift trucks are designed to carry loads, not people.
- Do not operate your truck without the load backrest extension and overhead guard. Keep the load against the backrest with the mast tilted backward.
- Do not lift or move loads that are not safe. Do not pick up an off center load. Such a load increases the possibility of a tipover to the side. Make sure loads are correctly stacked and positioned across both forks. Always use the proper size pallet. Position the forks as wide as possible under the load. Position loads evenly on the forks for proper balance. Do not lift a load with one fork.
- Do not overload. Always handle loads within the rated capacity shown on the capacity plate. Do not add extra counterweight to the truck. An overload can cause the truck to roll over and cause injury to personnel and damage to the lift truck.
- Do not drive on soft ground. Observe all signs, especially those on maximum permitted floor loadings, elevator capacities and clearance heights. Handle loads carefully and check them closely for stability and balance.
- Do not drive on slippery surfaces. Sand, gravel, ice or mud can cause a tipover. If unavoidable, slow down.
- Do not permit anyone to stand or walk under the load or lifting mechanism. The load can fall and cause injury or death to anyone standing below.
- Look out for overhead obstructions when raising or stacking loads. Do not travel with a raised load. Do not travel with the mast raised. The lift truck can roll over and cause injury or death to you or other personnel.
- Do not move loose loads that are higher than the load backrest. Be alert for falling loads when stacking. Travel with the load tilted back and the forks as low as possible. This will increase stability to the truck and load and permit better visibility for you.
- Do not elevate the load with the mast tilted forward. Do not tilt the elevated loads forwards. This will cause the lift truck to tip over forward.
- Do not jump off if your truck starts to tip over. Stay in your seat - it's the best way to survive a tip over in one piece.
- Go up ramps in forward direction and down ramps in reverse direction when moving loads. Never elevate a load with the forklift truck on an incline. Go straight off and straight down. Use an assistant when going up or down a ramp with a bulky load.
- Do not stack or turn on ramps. Do not attempt to pick-up or deposit a load unless the lift truck is level. Do not turn on or drive across an incline.
- Do not go over rough terrain. If unavoidable, slow down. Cross railroad tracks slowly and diagonally whenever possible. A railroad crossing can give a loaded forklift truck a real jolt. For smoother crossing, cross the railroad diagonally so one wheel crosses at a time.
- Avoid running over loose objects. Always look in the direction of travel. Look out for other persons or obstructions in your path too. An operator must be in full control of his lift truck at all times.
- Do not drive in forward direction when loads restrict your visibility. Operate your lift truck in reverse to improve visibility except when moving up a ramp.
- Be extra careful when operating a lift truck near the edge of a loading dock or ramp. Maintain a safe distance from the edge of docks, ramps and platforms. Falling over the edge may mean injury or even death.
- Do not operate on bridge plates unless they can support the weight of the truck and load. Make sure that they are correctly positioned. Put blocks on the vehicle you enter to keep it from moving.
- Always keep a safe distance from other trucks and make sure there is enough distance to stop safely. Never overtake other vehicles.
- Do not use your lift truck to push or tow another truck. Do not let another push or tow your truck. If a truck will not move, call a service technician.
- Forklift trucks may only be refueled at specially reserved locations. Switch off the engine when refueling. Smoking and handling of naked flames during refueling are strictly prohibited.
- This prohibition also applies during the changing of the LPG(Liquefied Propane gas) tank. Mop up spilt fuel and do not forget to close the fuel tank before restarting the engine.
- Park your lift truck in authorized areas only. Fully lower the forks to the floor, put direction lever in NEUTRAL position, engage the parking brake, and turn the key to the OFF position.
Always remove the key and it's a good idea to put blocks behind the wheels to prevent the truck from rolling.
And remember, check the condition of your forklift truck after a good day's work.