One of the responsibilities of a trained operator is to carry out workplace hazards identification prior to operating. The goal is not only to avoid these hazards but also to eliminate them with corrective actions.
In order to manage workplace health and safety at all times, it is essential to identify and control and reduce the threat associated hazards involved in the operation of the forklift. The operators must be taught to identify these threats and report them to their superior.
The best way to protect the company assets and employees is by knowing these hazards and take reasonable actions to prevent their potential harm.
If you haven’t known them yet, in this article we made them available for you. If you become aware of these 13 most common forklift hazards and their solution, you will be off to a safer work environment and motivated workers.
Transporting of Over Capacity Loads
The size and weight of the load to be transported have always a great impact on the stability of the forklift - it makes the truck unstable.
Transporting of heavy loads more than the forklift’s maximum load capacity is a definite way to make the truck unstable during travel. The situation could become more dangerous when the road surface where the truck is to be driven is wet or on an incline or in rough terrain.
Always keep in mind that the load is less stable when doing turn and when the load is in a raised position. It affects the load center and could make the forklift to tip over.
Always be aware of the forklift’s maximum load capacity prior to operation by checking its data plate. It indicates there that information and other relevant details about the truck. You could find in the data plate the load center, maximum fork height, weight of the truck, and other pertinent information.
Traveling at Excessive Speed
The forklift operator, if improperly trained, has a habit of driving the forklift at high speed especially when the operation is in outdoors.
To mitigate accidents due to over speeding, the workplace should maintain a maximum speed limit by posting visible signs in different places warning operators and other vehicles of the allowable speed the vehicles can be driven.
Speed limiting devices are also available in the market today. It is fitted on the forklift to reduce the maximum speed of a truck depending on turning radius and load weight. Fitting the forklift with speedometer is also a good way to warn the operators that the speed is exceeding to make them aware.
Forklift is Traveling with Elevated Load
This happens much too frequently. This is a common mistake we always see committed by the operator. The forklift should not be driven or repositioned when its load is elevated.
When traveling, the forks should be just below the front axle height or at a minimum distance from the floor surface, the height of the forks should clear the ramp and bump of the operating surface even because even with a small bump on the floor can cause the load to fall off.
If the load is too bulky and is blocking the forward view, travel in reverse instead and make sure that the mast is tilted back against the backrest to make the load more stabilized to transport.
When the forklift is traveling up or down a ramp with a load, keep the load pointed uphill. When going up an incline, the load should face uphill, and when going down, travel in reverse instead.
Regardless the forklift is loaded or not, it can tip over when turning. The forklift turns with the rear wheels which cause the rear end to swing outward, it raises the probability of the truck to tip over when doing tight turns.
To prevent such an accident, maintain a gradual speed during travel and slow down before making the turn. It makes the truck more stable during any turn.
The Load is Blocking the Forward View of the Operator
It is very common to see operators travel backward when the load being carried is too bulky because it obstructs the forward view. Traveling in reverse is the best way possible to make the transport safe and secure.
It was a standard practice to travel in reverse when transporting a vision-blocking load. Doing so, the operator has a better and clear path of travel ahead avoiding the pedestrian and other vehicles around the operating area.
Improperly Balanced or Unsecured Load
This is just another cause of forklift tip over. The heavy load being carried can make the forklift go sideways when the load is not properly balanced or unsecured.
Always make sure the load is properly placed on the pallet and that they’re evenly distributed, cross tied if possible, before transport so that it won’t rock or tilt.
If the load is heavy, see first the destination of travel it if is flat or rough so that you can know how the truck be driven on the surface.
Equipping the Truck with an Attachment
Attachments such as clamps, rotators, lifters, baskets and other kinds of such attachment can significantly reduce the load the capacity the truck can carry.
The attachment can affect the stability and center of gravity, with an attachment being used, the load is moved away from the load center affecting the capacity and road grip and reducing the maximum load it can lift or carry.
Always check the user’s manual about attachment, if it is not there, consult the truck’s manufacturer by calling them for help and guidance when you are intending to put an attachment.
Horse Playing with the Forklift
Racing with the truck, giving rides on the forklift, standing on the overhead guard while moving, alighting the vehicle while it is moving, and other forms of stunts are a sure-fire way to get you in trouble. Those may seem harmless but they’re very dangerous. It is never a good idea to commit any of this stunt.
When the forklift operator has been observed doing horseplay, he should be retrained or cited with a company violation ticket so that he recognizes the mistake he has done.
Leaving the Forklift with Its Engine Still Running
Leaving the forklift while it is still running is a big no-no! A forklift is considered unattended when its operator is 25 feet away from the vehicle even it remains in his view or vision. It is considered unattended when the operator leaves it and it is not in his view. Even the operator is just a few meters away from the vehicle but when its view is obstructed, it is still considered unattended.
The forklift should not be left or parked in the proper parking area. When parking, the forks should be lowered, the controls should be neutralized, its engine should be shut off and the brakes should be set. Never park the forklift with its keys still in the ignition.
Worn Out Forklift Tires
Whether the forklift tires are cushion or pneumatic, it is destined to be worn out. Chunking and cracking can be problematic. When the truck is operated over debris and uneven surfaces, pieces of tires fall off and leave chunks missing. It creates bouncing and vibration when being driven, the operator now has to adjust with that unintended movement.
Besides being unsafe to the driver, worn out tires can be a big risk to the load being carried or transported. This makes the base unstable and the load will be too.
The checking of the condition of tires should be included in the daily checklist. Worn out tires should be reported to supervisor for immediate replacement.
Poor Road or Surface Condition Where the Forklift is being Driven
The physical condition of the surface or ground where the forklift is being driven also contributes to accidents. A condition such as slippery condition, bumps, and uneven surfaces can spell disaster.
There is a danger of skidding during travel on these surfaces. There is also a danger of tip over on icy, oily muddy even in uneven road surfaces.
You can mitigate risk on such condition by traveling slowly and cautiously. If you see oil and other spilled liquid on the road, report it immediately to your supervisor for corrective action. If the road is uneven and impossible to cross with the forklift, find another route to the destination.
Pedestrians and Forklift Moving in the Same Place
Pedestrians and forklifts don’t mix. It is had been stated by OSHA that the pedestrian has the right of way so drivers must be in a constant alert when operating around pedestrians. The dangers involved is by being crushed by a passing forklift which is too common, falling hazard is the next big threat for pedestrian, and running over the feet of the pedestrian is much more common since sometimes forklift is being driven just feet away from the people.
To avoid accidents with pedestrians, the company can designate a traffic lane solely for forklift, mark the walkways with warning signs and postings, and by stressing the danger of pedestrian crossing during a training. During travel, slow down and sound the horn in an intersection, blind corners, and in any exits and doorways.
Finally, When the Operator is not Properly Trained (Unauthorized Operation)
It is against the law for someone to operate a forklift without proper training. According to OSHA, the operator should be certified first before he can put his hands on the controls. The forklift is much more dangerous to operate when handled by an untrained individual.
Be sure to have prior training before any work commencement. The training is easy to complete, it only takes about a few hours to complete the course. The course consists of classroom and practical training and evaluation in the end.
Individuals who wish to be certified, can contact the training school or ask their employer for training. It is the responsibility of the employer to supply you with such training.
To Conclude This
Accidents don’t just happen, there’s a series of events that transpired prior to occurrence. Not only that, forklift hazards contribute significantly to the occurrence of accidents in the workplace.
If you will be aware of these risks and the corresponding solutions, you could be assured of better work condition.
We wish you a safer and more secure work environment!