||Forklift Truck Safety
Industrial workplaces have
come to rely on forklift trucks for their ability to lift and transport just
about any load around the plant. The power of forklifts makes them indispensable,
but also dangerous. Often when employees grow accustomed to using forklifts
they tend to stop thinking of them as a safety hazard, and forget or neglect
to follow some important operating and
maintenance procedures. When
forklift injuries occur, they're usually serious given the tremendous weight
of those powerful machines.
Employees must be trained to
work safely with forklifts, not just when they're hired but periodically thereafter.
Refresher training for the experienced operator is just as important as first-time
training for new employees. It's also a good idea for employees to receive basic
first aid training in case of injuries.
Although forklifts are designed
to perform rugged tasks, each time they are used they can get damaged in any
number of ways. That's why inspection is of critical importance. At the start
of each shift, perform both a visual inspection of the general condition and
cleanliness of the lift truck, as well as an operational check to test its proper
functioning. If you notice anything that may affect the normal operation of
the forklift, immediately alert your supervisor.
Checklist for Visual Inspection
- floor--clear of objects
that could cause an accident
- no obstructions overhead
- note any nearby objects
to avoid as you drive away
- fire extinguisher present,
- engine oil level, fuel level,
radiator water level (LPG, gas and diesel forklifts)
- battery fully charged and
securely in place
- cables for exposed wires
- battery plug connections
not loose, worn or dirty
- vent caps not clogged
- electrolyte levels in cells
- hold downs or brackets
- bolts, nuts, guards, chains,
or hydraulic hose reels not damaged, missing or loose
- wheels and tires not worn
- air pressure of pneumatic
- forks not bent or cracked
- positioning latches in good
- carriage teeth not broken,
chipped or worn
- chain anchor pins not worn,
loose or bent
- no damp spots or drips that
may indicate a leak
- hoses held securely, not
loose, crimped, worn or rubbing
Checklist for Operational
- horn working and loud enough
to be heard in working environment; other warning devices operational
- floor brake: pedal holds,
unit stops smoothly
- parking brake: holds against
- deadman seat brake: holds
when operator rises from seat
- clutch and gearshift: shifts
smoothly with no jumping or jerking
- dash control panel: all
lights and gauges operational
- steering: moves smoothly
- lift mechanism: operates
smoothly (check by raising forks to maximum height then lowering completely)
- tilt mechanism: moves smoothly,
holds (check by tilting mast all the way forward and backward)
- cylinders and hoses: not
leaking after above checks
- no unusual sounds
- Permit only qualified people
to service and maintain forklift trucks.
No one must ride or operate
a forklift truck except for a trained forklift operator who is able to maintain
control of the forklift and operate it smoothly when stopping, starting, lifting
and tilting. The following pages list some important guidelines on forklift
Keep your hands, arms, head,
feet and legs inside the forklift truck. Travel with forks as low as possible
from the floor and tilted back. Obey posted traffic signs. Decrease speed at
all corners, sound horn and watch the swing of both the rear of the lift truck
and the load. Avoid sudden stops. If the load blocks your vision, travel slowly
in reverse. Always look in the direction of travel. Keep an eye out for oil
spots, wet spots, loose objects, holes, rough surfaces, people and vehicles
on the floor or roadway.
To ensure the safety of others,
know the blind spots of the lift truck with and without a load. When anyone
crosses the route being travelled, stop the forklift truck. Lower the load to
the floor, and wait until passage is clear.
Travelling on an Incline
Keep the forks pointed downhill
without a load, and pointed uphill with a load. Do not attempt to turn the lift
truck until it's on level ground.
Support the load by the front
wheels and turn with the rear wheels. Do not turn the steering wheel sharply
when travelling fast. If the lift truck is overloaded, steering will be difficult.
Do not exceed load limits, and do not add a counterweight as an attempt to improve
It's important to know the
recommended load limit of the forklift (shown on the data plate) and the capacity
of the fork, and to never exceed these limits.
Position the load according
to the recommended load centre. Do not add extra weight to counterbalance an
overload. Keep the load close to the front wheels to keep the lift truck stable.
When inserting the fork, keep
the mast of the forklift in an upright position before inserting the fork into
a pallet. Level the fork before inserting it.
Raising the Load
Do not raise or lower the fork
unless the lift truck is stopped and braked. Avoid lifting a load that extends
above the load backrest if there's any risk of the load, or part of it, sliding
back toward the operator. Check for adequate overhead clearance before raising
a load, and maintain a safe working distance from overhead power lines. Lift
the load straight up, then tilt back slightly. Watch that the load doesn't catch
on adjacent loads or obstructions. Don't back up until the forks are free.
When a load is raised, the
lift truck is less stable. The operator must stay on the forklift when the load
is in a raised position. Don't allow anyone to stand or walk under the elevated
part of the forklift, whether it's loaded or unloaded.
Ensure that forks are level
and high enough to go into the pallet, and that they go all the way under the
load. Forks must be the proper width to provide even weight distribution.
Avoid trying to move or adjust
any part of the load, the forklift or the surroundings when on the forklift.
Do not use pallets elevated by forklifts as an improvised working platform.
Park only in an approved location.
When leaving the lift truck unattended, secure it by setting the brakes, lowering
the forks or load to the floor, neutralizing the controls, and turning off the
motor switch. Disconnect the battery or go through propane shut-down procedures.
Loading or Unloading Straight
Trucks, Tractor Trailers, and Railway Cars
Preparing the vehicle being
loaded or unloaded
Set the vehicle's brakes, and
chock the wheels. Install fixed jacks to support a semi-trailer that is not
coupled to a tractor to prevent it from upending. Post signs warning people
not to move a vehicle. Check that the height of the vehicle's entrance door
clears the forklift height by at least 5 cm (2 in). Make sure floors can support
the combined weight of the forklift and the load.
Inspect the vehicle's interior
for trash, loose objects and obstructions, holes in the floor, and poor lighting.
Install nonslip material in any area that could be a slipping hazard.
Ensure that docks and dockplates
are clear of obstructions and not oily or wet.
Loading or unloading the
Stay clear of edges of docks,
rail cars or ramps. Have edges clearly marked.
Do not tow or push railway
cars or trucks with a forklift. Do not operate forklifts inside vehicles for
long periods without ventilation. Make sure that the dockplate is properly secured
and can support the load (load weight should be clearly marked). Drive carefully
and slowly over the plate. Do not spin the wheels.
Loading railway cars
Cross the railway track on
a diagonal. Set handbrakes, wheel blocks and derailer before entering a railway
car. Do not park a forklift within three meters of railway tracks. Do not open
railway car doors with forklift forks.
Entering an Elevator with
a Forklift Truck
Do not enter any elevator unless
specifically authorized to do so. Before entering, ensure that the forklift
plus load weight does not the exceed the elevator capacity. Approach the elevator
slowly. Stop at a safe distance from the elevator gate, then enter squarely.
Neutralize the forklift controls.
Shut off the motor and apply the brakes.
When working on or near a forklift,
stay alert and prepare for the unexpected. Immediately report any collisions,
damage or near-misses to a supervisor.
For more information on forklift
safety, contact the Inquiries Service at the
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety at 1-800-668-4284 or help
yourself to the information in OSH Answers.