15 Tips for Operating the Forklift Safely

October 10, 2018
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Forklifts are very useful pieces of equipment used in many industries to enhance productivity, protect the health and safety of employees and also to speed up the processes. This equipment can also be very costly to repair and extremely dangerous.

Earning a forklift license is just the beginning of the learning process. To make the best use of these pieces of equipment, you will have to learn a couple of things while on the job. Although the following tips may seem pretty basic, they are a great starting point to support the workplace health and safety guidelines.

1. Operators Have To Be Qualified 

The person who operates the forklift must have earned their forklift license through a recognized training institution. The individual must have the proper training and carry an updated license. This is the key to avoiding accidents in the workplace.

2. Operators Must Wear Appropriate Clothing

Wearing safety work wear is a must prior to getting on the forklift. The wear includes a hard hat, high-visibility jackets, and safety shoes. The workwear must fit the operator because loose clothing can get caught on the machinery. Operators must also never get on the forklift if they have greasy hands.

3. Equipment Has To Be Examined Carefully Before Use

Prior to driving the equipment, the operators must do a routine check. They need to check for faults in the brakes, controls, steering, warning devices, tires, and mast. The management should be notified if any notable problems or damages are seen on the forklift.

4. Get The Repairs Done On Time

Regular maintenance and forklift repair are vital to the smooth and safe operation of a forklift. All notable problems or damages must be repaired as soon as possible to keep them from getting worse or putting the operator and the people around at risk. The repairs have to be carried out by fully trained and qualified mechanics or engineers. Moreover, all the inspections, results and actions need to be recorded to evidence commitment to health and safety.

5. Always Consider The Journey’s End

One of the most important tip forklift operators should use is that of always considering the ‘journey’s end’ prior to picking up a load. The operator needs to place the load at a convenient position in order to make it convenient for stacking.

6. Pay Attention To The Surroundings

The forklift operator is responsible for the safety of the people and items in the immediate environment. Attention must be paid to the surrounding and worksite rules and guidelines must be followed. The forklift must only be driven in the machinery’s designated roadways. All signs must be observed, the operator must be aware of the forklift’s height and be hyper-vigilant when operating the forklift close to the edge of the loading ramp or dock. Bridge plates should not be operated unless they can support the weight of the forklift and the load.

7. Pay Attention To The Batteries

When you invest in electric forklifts, you have to ensure that you pick the right battery and keep a keen eye on the batteries. Although it is recommended to replace the battery after 5 years, this rule is not ironclad. With proper care, the battery can go beyond the five years. All in all, there are times when the battery just gives up early. Here are the signs that will let you know you need new forklift batteries Toronto:

  • Battery charge degrades to a few hours of operation use
  • There is corrosion buildup on the case of the battery
  • You need to charge the battery more than once each day to go through a full shift
  • The battery is emitting a sulfurous (rotten egg) smell
  • The battery starts to produce smoke when charging or when in use (this is the most dangerous sign as it can cause a fire)

With regular maintenance of the forklift, your technician will let you know when it is time to replace the battery. The use of forklift batteries that show the above signs should be discontinued.

8. Operate At Safe Speeds

The speed limit must not be exceeded. Corners and turns must be taken slowly to reduce the risk of tipping. Changes in direction or stops must be done gradually and slowly.

9. Avoid Hazards

Avoid uneven ground surfaces, slippery conditions, and bumps. Loose ground objects that may cause an understeer must be avoided. When approaching corners or entrances, you should always use the horn. That way you can alert the pedestrians or other operators to avoid a collision. When following other trucks or forklifts, ensure you keep a safe distance with enough room to stop in case of an emergency. 

10. Make Sure The Load Is Both Stable And Secured

Prior to moving a load, ensure it is stable and well secured. To increase truck stability when transporting a load, you should ensure that the load is tilted back with the forks sitting low. Never move loads that exceed the capacity of the forklift and those that are unstable.

11. Ensure You Have Clear Visibility

It is imperative for a forklift operator to ensure that they can see clearly before operating the machinery. Ensure you can clearly see the racking when positioning the load. Don’t drive in poor visibility. Certain circumstances will require that you get a lookout.

12. Forklifts Should Be Used Only For Carrying Loads

The operator should not allow other people to ride on the forklift unless there is an additional seat on the machinery. If you have to lift a person, ensure there is an appropriate platform and cage and adhere to the operating instructions.

13. Keep The Mast Clear

Nobody should walk under a lifted load. The load can fall and cause serious injury. Hands and feet must also be kept clear of the mast.

14. Driving On The Ramps

You should drive up the ramp in a forward direction and reverse when driving down. You must never turn, load or unload goods while on the ramp.

15. At The End Of The Shift

The forklift must be parked at a designated area at the end of the shift. Lower the forks fully and apply the park brake. Turn off the forklift and remove the key. When unattended, the forklift must be switched off.

The above tips will help prevent accidents and improve forklift efficiency. Make use of all the aforementioned tips and never cut corners. 


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