5 Facts Supervisors Need to Know About Forklift Operation

Worker in protective uniform in front of forkliftManaging an industrial workplace means a lot more than maximizing production; it also means keeping employees safe. When it comes to forklift operation, training is vital.

Take a look at the top 5 crucial safety guidelines that must be present in the workplace to prevent a potential worker’s compensation claim and save money from mechanical repairs & equipment replacement.

1. Forklift Operation by Trained Personnel

Untrained employees should never have access to the forklift keys and even experienced drivers should be closely supervised. It’s a smart practice to periodically quiz employees regarding equipment maintenance, safety rules and responsible forklift use.

2. Appropriate Training System

Forklift designs evolve over time, and it’s important that the employee understands the specifics of the particular machine. What’s the maximum load weight? What are common issues with that particular model?

Beyond the specific machine, employees must be familiar with both the forklift mechanics and the work zone. They should understand the location of forklift paths and the no-drive areas.

3. Forklift Maintenance Awareness

Each forklift has a manufacturer guide that details the maintenance requirements of your particular model, which should be read by operators and supervisors. Quiz them on the content.

A maintenance schedule should also be developed. Ensuring that the equipment is properly maintained can prevent unexpected accidents.

Regular inspections are integral parts of any maintenance schedule. A checklist should be developed that examines the individual machine parts and forklifts should be assessed while active and inactive.

4. Safe Workplace

Forklift paths and no-drive zones should be clearly marked. Floor-marking tape is the most efficient way to mark the floor.  Make sure the workplace is adequately lit and any slippery areas are noticeably marked.

Workers should be aware of any uneven or sloping areas to slow down when crossing them.

Perhaps the most important factor in any safe workplace is rule compliance such as:

  • Forklift should only be used for its intended purpose
  • Safety inspections should be carried out twice daily, before and after operation
  • Forklift operators must remain seated while driving
  • Loads should be fully placed on forks, touching the back rest or truck Reduce speed when operating near pedestrians or obstacles
  • Pedestrians have the right-of-way
  • Clothes should be highly visible
  • No passengers should be riding in the forklift

When the forklift is not in operation, the keys should be removed, controls in neutral, power shut off, forks lowered, and parking brake set.

5. Use of Seat Belts

If your forklift has a seat belt, it is imperative that it is always worn. They help to:

  • Prevent the driver from falling out of the vehicle during unexpected collisions and forklift tilts
  • Keep the driver under the overhead safety guardIf your forklift does not feature a seat belt, consider having one installed.

With proper training, regular forklift maintenance and periodic employee quizzes, the risks of injury greatly reduce, as do the chances of causing an accident that disrupts productivity.

About Tom Reddon

Tom has been involved in the forklift industry since 1986. He loves doing research, blogging, and speaking about forklifts. You can contact Tom on his Twitter or Google+ profiles.

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