#YHSafetyTips - Forklifts

Posted by Ashley Bechtel in #YHSafetyTips, Nov 23, 2016

A forklift is a safe way to move heavy objects within a short distance in the workplace. However, it can also be very dangerous. OSHA has set standards of how to properly use a forklift so that no injuries occur. These include pre-use inspections, mounting and dismounting tips, and tips for when operating the forklift.

OSHA requires that every forklift operator be trained and certified to operate the forklift. This certification must be evaluated every three years. You will also need to have a license to drive the forklift and authorization from your employer.

Prior to using the forklift you should conduct a pre-operation inspection which includes checking fluid levels, hydraulic hoses and mast chains, tire condition, fork condition, load backrest extension, finger guards, safety decals and nameplates, operator compartment, and the functionality of all safety devices including the seat belt.

When mounting and dismounting the forklift:

  • Watch for the height of the overhead cage and do not hit your head
  • Be careful of your footing so that you do not trip or slip on the step
  • Check your shoes for grease to prevent slipping
  • Do not grab the steering wheel, instead use the handhold. This will be more secure as the steering wheel could move and cause you to loose your balance
  • Do not jump from the cab when dismounting

When starting or stopping the forklift:

  • Immediately after starting the forklift, perform an operational inspection which includes accelerator linkage, brakes, steering, drive control (forward and reverse), tilt control (forward and back), hoist lowering control, horn, lights, back-up alarm, and hour meter.
  • Make sure that your path is clear. If you can not see where you are going sound your horn or use a spotter to assist you
  • When parking your forklift, do not park in unauthorized areas. Follow your company’s parking policies
  • To park the forklift: slowly apply the break, neutralize the controls, set the parking brake, and then turn off the ignition
  • If you park on an incline, block the wheels so that it does not drift

When operating the forklift at speed:

  • Watch out for potential hazards including but not limited to: tipper caused by driving too fast and collision with pedestrians or obstacles
  • Be aware of travel conditions along your planned route
  • Do not operate the truck at a speed that will prevent stopping in time
  • Slow down on wet and slippery floors
  • Look in the direction that you are traveling and keep a clear view of your path
  • When approaching cross isles and other locations where vision is obstructed, slow down and sound your horn to notify others that you are there
  • Reduce speed when approaching turns so that you can proceed safely. Turn the wheel with a smooth, sweeping motion
  • Drive the truck so that the load is upgrade on all hills in excess of 10 percent (incline or decline)
  • Avoid running over loose objects on the roadway surface
  • Use extreme caution when backing up or reversing. Reversing can increase the chances of an accident.
  • Come to a complete stop when changing directions and be aware of all things surrounding you so that you do not collide with a pedestrian, other vehicle, or a nearby object

Other general use guidelines:

  • Consider the noise level of your workplace. Do not assume that other workers will hear your backup alarm
  • Use ground guides, rear-view mirrors, spotters, or other aids to increase your visibility
  • Do not grab the overhead guard when traveling in reverse. This can expose the drivers hand to serious injury
  • Never turn while on an incline (or decline) Forklifts can tip over on the smallest of grades.
  • Do not operate the forklift with the forks elevated.

For more information on the safe use of fork lifts you can visit OSHA’s guide to maneuvering a fork truck by clicking here.

For more information on the maintenance of fork lifts, including the pre operation inspection, operational inspection, and removal of service you can clicking here/

Last week we discussed the safe use of ladders in the workplace. If you missed it, you can find it here.

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