Forklifts are vehicles that are widely used in warehouses and manufacturing industries for lifting loads and transporting material from one place to another. They are very powerful vehicles and operate either on electricity or fuel. Most forklift trucks use gasoline or propane as fuel in their combustion engine. They have hard tires, and can also be used on rough terrain. Forklifts are operated either by a pedestrian operator or by a riding operator, depending on the structure of the vehicle. Safety is a major concern when operating these vehicles. Even the slightest mistake or carelessness by the operator can cause severe accidents. If such accidents occur frequently, repairing the vehicle and medical treatment of the affected employees can be an extra burden on the company. That's why safety training of the forklift operators must be given prime importance.
Preventing Occupational Hazards by Knowing Safety Tips
Mentioned below are some tips that must be followed while working with these machines.
- Keep a safe distance from the forklift as it is the best way to prevent yourself from any accidents. When working around forklifts, don't try to go very near them. Though, these are very heavy machines, they can turn at tremendous speeds, unlike automobiles whose rear wheels are not so fast. Make sure that if you are standing behind, then stand at a safe distance, because sudden rotation or sharp turns can be life-threatening.
- Forklifts require large areas to maneuver. So, before using a forklift in a warehouse, don't crowd the place with huge piles of goods. Also, workers and small machines should not be allowed in the vicinity. Owing to their heavy load, they can crush anything that comes in between them and their destination.
- It is not always possible for the driver to see a person or a thing that is in its way. The main reason is that during lifting the load, he has to concentrate more on the technical aspects of lifting the load properly and placing it at the correct spot. This calls for a precautionary measure from workers that they must not be roaming in the working zone of forklift trucks. However, if work demands it, then the worker must communicate this to the driver. Proper lighting should be installed in forklifts, so that any possible injury to employees can be avoided. Video and audio communication devices are the best way to avoid accidents, and companies must make an effort to provide these to the workers and operators.
- The operators must be specifically advised not to carry loads that are heavier than the standard limit set for the forklift. Otherwise, even if the forklift truck is able to raise a heavier load, its mast may break and the load can fall with greater speed and cause damage to the surrounding areas.
Training a forklift operator is of utmost importance. A skilled operator reduces the risk of accidents and performs his/her tasks within the allotted time. Labor laws have made it mandatory that the minimum age required for a person to become a forklift operator is 18. Forklift vehicles are quite different from automobiles and require greater skill and patience. There are various companies that offer certificate courses in forklift operator training. Operators are trained for certain period of time and then recruited by registered companies.
- The trainer must be trained in hydraulic systems, basic working of mechanical automobiles, and various facets of forklift truck driving. A background in mechanical engineering is better for a person wishing to enroll for such training programs.
- For their safety, operators must be provided with helmets and other safety requirements.
- Before an operator begins his work, he/she should check if the hoist is properly fitted, and all safety precautions have been taken. Any fault in the working of the vehicle must be reported to the company.
- All the load, including its parts must be properly tied, so that they don't get dislodged during raising the load.