Essential considerations for improved forklift safety

Forklift Safety Cages

When considering forklift safety, Australian based business managers may become overwhelmed. Safety should be a key area of concern, and it needs a multifaceted approach, including adequate training, the correct safety equipment, vehicle inspections, and maintenance. If any of these areas are not considered, the chances of an accident occurring are raised significantly.

There is a lot of responsibility involved in operating a forklift and it is essential the driver is persistent in their safety measures. Getting the job done is the main goal, but safety should be too. Like with any job, operating a forklift you should take your time, and be mindful of your own safety and others around you. It may take you an extra few seconds to ensure everything is safe, but it will prevent any forklift incidents. Let’s look at nine key areas that are often overlooked by forklift operators.

The Environment

Forklift drivers should be aware of their work area and surroundings. Do a quick walk on foot to identify any potential hazards that may be in place, and remove them or delineate them with bollards and safety barriers. Workers need to make sure to keep to all the rules of the work site by following signs, work zones, weight limits and speed limits. Make sure to work within the designated area, and to not cross the bollards or safety barriers.

It’s important to understand the setting where the forklift is going to be used. It may be the case that the forklift is strictly limited to an interior warehouse location that uses loading bays. In many cases, the forklift may be used to unload a vehicle outdoors and then carry loads into the warehouse. The role that the forklift plays will determine the equipment that is required for safe operation, specifically tyres.

Tyre Choices

There are three types of tyres that are usually used; rubber, pneumatic and polyurethane. Rubber tyres are a great option for purely interior use, but if used outside they are susceptible to deflating or bursting. Pneumatic tyres are more durable and a good option for heavy lifting operations. Polyurethane tyres are usually fitted to electric powered forklifts and used for handling specialised materials.

Forklift Safety Cages

Forklift Safety Warehouse

These barriers are a fantastic way to improve safety in a busy warehouse. They restrict easy access to areas where forklifts are in operation to reduce the chances of an accident occurring. They offer a clear highly visible perimeter for the driver to ensure that he does not drift into more pedestrian areas. Also, in the event of a collision, they act as a safety barrier to protect people that may be in the area. This kind of safety fencing can be a permanent fixture, or it could be a moveable barrier that is only used at certain times of the day.

Used vs. New

It can be very cost effective to using used forklifts and associated parts in your business. It is vitally important to have a used forklift thoroughly checked for accident damage and signs of improper maintenance. Always ensure that a used forklift is correct for the location where it will be used and that it has an adequate turning circle. A new forklift will cost more, but it will have a warranty and support that may be worth the additional premium paid.

Keeping up to date with maintenance

Much like your car, you should keep track of maintenance requirements for your forklift. In the operator’s manual there will be service dates, and recommended parts to be replaced and repaired. Even new forklifts will need maintenance, as the workload stress will take its toll on the machine.

Not only is it for safety that you should keep up with maintenance, but for the sake of the job. If your forklift breaks down in the middle of the job it can be greatly delayed just because some maintenance work was forgotten. Keeping on top of scheduled maintenance, and routine checks is a good way to prevent any job site delays.

Evenly distribute your load

Forklifts have central mass, and to operate them correctly you need to make sure the load is both secure and fitted evenly on the fork arms. Your forklift will have a total weight it can carry, so keeping that in mind if you have a heavy load you don’t overextend the limits of the forklift’s centre of gravity. The user manual should have directions on its “stability triangle” and show where you should direct the weight of the load. Tilting your load back slightly towards the main body keeps the load from slipping off, or causing forklift tip-over.

Ensure you have effective alert systems installed

As with any moving plants in the workplace, your forklift should have an operating alert system. There are always risks when operating any kind of machinery that you may not even see even if you have followed every safety measure you can. If you’re concentrating on your work, you may not notice someone walk nearby your forklift and there is a chance you can injure them. It is the responsibility of the driver to be mindful of those around them.

An alert system will help those outside the forklift, know that it’s nearby and operating. You may be driving up to a blind corner and someone may walk into your path, but with an alert system, they will be able to hear you coming and remove themselves from your path.

Follow the line markings

Almost every warehouse will have a traffic management plan and zones marked out with lines. The forklift driver should be able to easily see and operate within these markings. By having a walking only zone means the forklift can’t enter this location and it’s an easy place for those walking to stand when there is a forklift or any other kinds of plants operating around them.

Try to avoid using dark colours for the lines, as they will be hard to see for anyone with vision problems. Yellow reflective paint is a good bright colour that is easy to be seen by everyone.

Wear the appropriate clothing

Not only should a forklift driver operate the machine safely, but they need to make sure they are safe themselves, by wearing the appropriate work clothing. As they are working on the site they should follow all the mandatory workplace clothing rules.

Essential clothing that should be worn includes; wearing a hard-hat, to prevent any injury to the head from falling objects if that does happen, a high-visibility jacket, so not only the forklift is easily seen but also the driver within, steel cap safety shoes need to be worn to protect your toes and feet from any lose objects. Ensure that the operator doesn’t have any loose clothing either, preventing any risk of getting snagged in the forklift or other operating plants.

Take safety to the next level with Image Extra

If your business is looking for high-quality forklift safety barriers and cages, contact us at Image Extra. We supply a wide range of safety and security equipment including forklift barriers and safety bollards. All of our products are compliant with Australian safety legislation and manufactured to a high standard. Our sales team is here to discuss your particular needs in greater detail and answer any remaining questions you may have.