If you are looking to hire one or more forklift trucks, it is crucial to conduct a risk assessment of the equipment, the capabilities of your employees and your work site to ensure the safety of employees and the general public. One hazard is the risk of them tipping over in operation which endangers personnel and property. Here are five mishaps to avoid for safe forklift usage.
Forklifts are rated to carry a certain amount of weight, and overloading a forklift above its carrying capacity will unbalance the machine and potentially cause it to tip over. Lifting and carrying a heavy load too high can also change the centre of gravity of the forklift and make it unstable, putting the driver, machine and load at risk.
Manoeuvring too quickly
Turning corners too quickly or accelerating or decelerating too suddenly can cause the forklift to become unstable and potentially tip over, especially when underloaded.
Forklift trucks are often used in warehouses, factories or other indoor locations, where they are driven around on a flat and predictable floor. But other locations where you may wish to deploy a forklift truck are not so uniformly flat.
Outdoor locations, such as building sites, may require the truck to navigate uneven terrain while moving heavy loads, and bumps and craters on the ground can be a problem for maintaining a moving forklift's stability. This may be exacerbated by the other factors mentioned above.
Not using seat belts
A forklift truck is equipped with a seat belt not to protect against high-speed collisions (indeed, the truck is not designed to reach anything like high speeds), but, rather, to protect the driver against his or her own reflexes. Should an accident occur where the truck tips over, the natural inclination of the driver is to attempt to jump out of the vehicle, which leads to a serious risk of them ending up trapped under it. A significant number of fatalities happen when the forklift operator attempts to jump free of a vehicle that is tipping over.
A seat belt in a forklift truck restrains the driver from acting out this reflex; the chances of serious injury or death from the driver staying put, as the truck topples over, are greatly reduced. The driver should instead grip the wheel tightly and 'dig in' with their feet, to ensure that they are rooted in their seat in the event of a tipover. For reasons of employee safety, the onus is on the employer to ensure that forklift operators belt up when operating the machine. Indeed, many newer models of forklift will not run at all if the seat belt is disconnected.
Other employees and members of the public should give the truck a wide berth when it is in operation, to avoid the risk of injury. Safety markings such as signs, partitions and bollards should be laid down to demarcate the area in which forklifts are operating.
For more information, contact companies like MLA Holdings Pty Ltd.