You might be reading the title of this blog post and thinking you don’t need to continue any further, you already know all there is to operating a forklift, it’s second nature. Well, that might be even more reason to read on – you could have been doing it wrong all these years!
We’ve put together a list of 10 simple tips to help you ensure your own safety, and the safety of those around you, whilst operating a forklift. They might sound basic, and pretty obvious, but as part of a workplace health and safety guidelines they will go far to help reduce accidents and injury.
So, where to start?
- Forklift operators need to be qualified
Only those who have received the necessary training and hold a licence are legally able to operate the equipment.
- Always wear the appropriate clothing
It’s essential that appropriate safety attire is worn to ensure you’re safe and visible to others. Hard hats, hi-vis jackets and safety shoes are a requirement for a reason – don’t forget them.
Don’t wear loose fitting clothes as they could get caught potentially causing an injury and/or accident.
- Check equipment before use
Always do routine checks before starting up a vehicle. Check the brakes, controls, steering, tyres, mast and warning devices.
If there are any problems or damages to the vehicle, these should be noted and management notified – and the forklift should not be operated.
- Make sure you’re comfortable
It’s important that all controls are in reach and you’ve adjusted the mirrors and seat position to suit your height. Don’t start the vehicle until you’ve done this, fastened your seatbelt and are safely in the confines of the forklift.
- Check your environment
Pay attention to your surroundings. Only drive the equipment in the designated roadways, observing all signs and being aware of the height of the load when entering/ exiting buildings.
Do not operate on bridge plates, unless they can support weight of the forklift and its load, and be careful when driving near the edge of loading ramps or docks as it is possible the vehicle could fall of the edge.
- Drive at a safe speed
Never drive over the speed limit, make any changes in direction slowly and gradually and take corners carefully to prevent tipping.
- Ensure load is evenly distributed
Make sure any load is evenly distributed and not precariously balanced. Do not lift anything unless both forks are under the load taking the weight, using pallets and skids that can withstand the weight of the load – never use damaged or decayed pallets.
- Keep clear of the mast
Never let anyone walk or stand under the load bearing mast of the forklift, if it falls it can cause serious injury or death. Always keep hands clear of the mast’s cross members – serious injuries can occur if it is lowered whilst your hand is on it.
- Only refuel where appropriate
You should only ever refuel in the designated refuelling area; this should be a well-ventilated area with no chance of sparks or open flames. Always switch off the engine first.
- Remember to switch off properly
Ensure the forklift is parked in a safe and designated area, lower the forks to the floor and apply the brake before turning off and removing the key.
So there you have it; 10 simple but very important tips to operating a forklift safely. Did you already know it all? Great! If not, hopefully you learnt something.
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