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5 forklift handling safety tips every warehouse should follow

By Tom Reddon

Employees operating forklifts are often exposed to a variety of risks. Oftentimes, negligence and other innocuous violation of safety rules are the exact causes behind a serious and even fatal accident. Because it is the goal of every warehouse to promote a healthy and safe work environment, taking time to educate your employees about proper forklift operation is a great way to keep accidents at bay. To get started, here are five material handling safety tips every warehouse should establish for their forklift operators and others who may work alongside these powerful workhorses.

•Honour load capacity: Around 42 per cent of forklifts accidents are caused by loading issues. When a forklift is overloaded, the excessive weight may cause the forklift to lose balance and tip over, creating a disastrous situation for the operator and those around him. Respect the load capacity of the forklift, and never challenge the weight limit in the name of convenience.

•Use the right forklift attachments: Forklifts have a number of safety devices to keep operators out of harm’s way. Forklift attachments, for example, are additional boosts that seek to extend the function of forklifts in different jobs. Before tackling any material handling projects, make sure that the forklift is equipped with the right accessories to perform the job efficiently and safely. Employers could also ready a list of forklift attachments to help employees evaluate their options and make an informed decision.

•Maintain clear visibility of work environment: Narrow aisles and tightly spaced loads can sometimes obstruct the view of forklift operators. Warehouses with poor lighting may further compromise visibility, creating the perfect recipe for accidents. Whenever a forklift is in operation, the operator should use his voice to announce both his coming and intention so people who are hidden from his view can take proper actions and precautions to stay safe.

•Ensure that the load is secured: Sometimes it is the pallet holding the load that is broken. Other times, it is the rope around the load that has loosened. Whatever the situation may be, a loose load is going to collapse and fall during transportation. To avoid having tons of loads falling on employees, warehouse owners should encourage forklift operators to check and test the load for security before officially moving it from the stack.

•Proper operation and regular maintenance: Workers must operate the forklift with care and alertness and stay clear away from stunt driving or horseplay. They should regularly check the forklift to make sure that it is mechanically functional. If they hear any funny noises or simply have a “bad feeling” about how the forklift is operating, they should stop the forklift immediately and notify their supervisor. Better to err on the side of caution than to compromise the well-being of themselves and their co-workers.

Tom Reddon

Tom Reddon is a forklift specialist and blog manager for the National Forklift Exchange. He also sits on the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) Executive Dialogue team. Follow him on Twitter at @TomReddon.
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