Not just anyone can be a forklift operator. If you have aspirations of becoming one, then you understand just how much skill and knowledge it takes before you can actually operate this heavy machinery. You’ll need to undergo countless hours of hands-on training. Aside from that, you’ll also have to attend training courses that teach you how to operate a forklift, diagnose issues, and use it in the most optimal way possible.
But if you’re already a trained forklift operator, then you only have the job left of making sure that you’re using it properly. You don’t want to cause any accidents due to poor negligence of using the machine. As with all types of heavy machinery or large equipment, safety should be one of the key priorities. This is so that you can avoid potential workplace hazards that can cause accidents, injuries — or in worst case scenarios, even death.
To make sure that you’re properly operating a forklift, keep in mind the following safety tips: Make sure that there are no obstacles blocking your path, be aware of your surroundings, wear the right protective gear, and alert personnel when necessary. Read on to learn more.
Make Sure The Path Is Clear From Hazards
The main function of the forklift is to transport goods from one location to another. Not all forklifts are designed to carry the same amount of load, since the values will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Despite this, one consistency with using forklifts or any other mobile heavy machinery for that matter, is to ensure that the path or the direction where the forklift is moving towards, is free from hazards.
For example, in a warehouse, there are several objects that can block a forklift’s path. These can range from immobile objects like boxes, utility carts, small equipment, trash bins, storage spaces, or other forklifts as well.
When you’re operating the vehicle, you need to be aware of the forklift’s direction at all times so that you can see if there is anything that the machine may bump into, or harm. You want to keep yourself free from any distractions that might impair you while driving the vehicle. In doing so, you are not endangering anyone or damaging any object or machinery in your surroundings.
Always Alert People In The Area
When turning corners or in areas where the level of visibility might be low, navigating the forklift can be tricky. To avoid this, always see to it that you are maneuvering the forklifts where you can clearly see the road ahead of you. In the event that the visibility is just too poor, however — whether it be due to environmental conditions or the architectural design of the facility, then you need to alert everyone around you.
Alerting people in the vicinity of the forklift can be done by hitting on the horn in the steering wheel of the forklift’s cab. In this way, any person who may not necessarily spot the arrival of the machine can be alerted that they might be in the way or that there might be an obstacle that’s blocking the forklift and has to be removed.
The horn function is not just for decorative purposes — it’s there to serve as a safety mechanism under poor lighting conditions or against any physical obstruction.
Wear The Right Clothing
Another solution to low-visibility areas when driving a forklift, is to wear the right protective equipment for the job. This is for the safety of both the operator and the other personnel surrounding them.
The type of clothing will depend on the kind of environment that you’re operating the forklift in. Some environments, like petrochemical plants or metal fabrication facilities may require specialised clothing — usually those that are fire-rated. Nevertheless, there are some basic articles of clothing that should always be worn when driving one. Listed below are the following:
Industrial earmuffs (when stationary)
It’s also important to make a checklist of these items before stepping inside the cab of the forklift and starting its engine.
Follow Road Safety Markers
Part of being aware of your surroundings when operating any heavy equipment is following markers placed on the roads. Aside from improving the visibility, the purpose of these markers is to correctly direct the flow of traffic in a given facility. Some areas may only be one-way streets to prevent accidents, while some areas are marked only to determine who or what are authorized to enter these spaces.
Road safety markers are usually applied by sticking an industrial tape or a yellow-colored road marking tape on the ground. These should be properly spaced out when marked on the ground so that the operator won’t run over the markers with the cab. These marking tapes may also be sometimes accompanied by traffic cones for better navigability.
Safely operating a forklift is crucial for the safety of others, as well as the operator’s. Many factors can determine how safely this type of machine can be operated. It can depend on the skill of the driver, clothing, and the surroundings.
Even if safety measures have already been placed, it’s still the job of personnel and other machine operators to maintain safety. Keeping all of the techniques above in mind and consistently following them on a daily basis can not just prevent accidents but also improve overall efficiency.