How To Keep Yourself Safe Whilst Operating A Forklift

How To Keep Yourself Safe Whilst Operating A Forklift

For many warehouses and supply chains, the forklift is an unsung hero that allows for fast, efficient movement of inventory, as well as a huge range of other features.

Because they are so important and so ubiquitous, it becomes even more important to ensure they are being used and handled safely. According to the HSE, a quarter of all workplace transport accidents involve a forklift truck.

Whether you have organised a forklift hire or manage a fleet of lift trucks, here are the best ways to keep your staff safe whilst forklifts are in operation.

Ensure Appropriate Clothing Is Worn

Forklift operators need to be safe and visible to other warehouse users, so it is vital that at a minimum they are wearing steel toe-cap safety shoes, a hard hat and a hi-visibility jacket alongside their work uniform.

As well as this, loose clothing should be avoided as it can easily snag on machinery.

Only Allow Qualified Individuals To Operate Your Forklift

Forklifts have a range of unique properties to how they drive and so must only be used by individuals who have a license to operate suitable equipment.

This also ensures they know their capabilities, as well as the potential dangers of operation in the environment they are expected to operate in.

Check And Check Again

Much like how only qualified individuals should operate a forklift, only suitable and sound forklifts should be operated, and all equipment should be checked routinely before use.

In particular, an operator should look for potential faults with the steering, lift controls, brakes, tyres, mast and any warning lights.

If any faults or damage is reported, management should be notified and the forklift must not be operated.

As well as this, once the operator has sat in the cab, they should ensure that all of the equipment controls are within easy and comfortable reach, and the mirrors and seat are adjusted to ensure easy view and reach of the pedals.

Before they start the forklift the operator must also check they are strapped in with all parts of their body safely held inside the operator’s cabin.

 Safety Not Speed

Speed limits have been set up in warehouses for many reasons, from avoiding potential collisions with pedestrian staff to ensuring forklifts do not tip over under load.

Never move faster than the speed limit, and ensure corners and changes of direction are taken slowly and gradually.

Avoid Obstacles And Hazards

Maintaining a manageable speed enables a skilled operator to slow down and navigate potential hazards in a warehouse, such as uneven and slippery surfaces, loose objects and other warehouse users.

Make sure you always have enough space to slow down and stop safely in the case of an emergency.

Use your horn regularly when close to corners, doorways and entrances, as well as around staff to ensure that they are aware of your whereabouts at all times.

Drive  Backwards When Carrying Bulky Loads

Visibility is key, and in some cases when operating the forklift your load is such that it can obscure your visibility. In these cases, it is important to drive in reverse so you have a much wider range of vision.

The exception to this is moving up ramps, as this can affect the weight distribution of the forklift.

If visibility is too poor to drive safely, do not continue; ask for a lookout to help you operate the forklift safely.