If you recently purchased a forklift for your warehouse - or are thinking about doing so - you know the efficiency such equipment can bring to your operation. But you also need to be cognizant of the potential safety risks that come with using such heavy machinery around your army of workers on a daily basis, and take measures to keep that risk minimized.
The following steps should go a long way toward keeping your safety record clean as you add a forklift to your facilities:
1) Make sure all operators are certified
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in integrating a forklift to your warehouse practices is letting just anyone use it, according to Big Rentz. Despite the appearances, driving a forklift has very little in common with driving a car or even a golf cart, so you need to be careful to ensure anyone who will operate the machine has obtained the proper certifications. Without those courses and documentation, you shouldn't let a worker drive it.
2) Understand the specifics of the machine
It's also important for any would-be driver to know the exact specifications of your forklift, as they're not all the same, Big Rentz added. Some can handle bigger loads, or operate at different speeds, than others. As such, you need to make sure your workers know what your facility's forklift can do, so they don't put too much stress on it and inadvertently increase safety concerns.
3) Train other employees to be more aware
While you certainly need to make sure your forklift operators know what they're doing in working with the machine, you also need to guarantee other workers know what they're doing working alongside it, according to Toyota Forklift. That means understanding when the lift is in their vicinity (by listening for it or looking for its warning lights) and how to behave around it, such as avoiding potential crush and pinch points.
4) Inspect the forklift every time it's used
Any heavy machinery goes through a lot of wear and tear as you put it through its paces in the warehouse, so you need to make sure it's ready to go every time you start it up, Toyota Forklift noted. By requiring employees to conduct a quick inspection before climbing into the driver's seat, they'll be able to spot potential problems before they become safety issues.
5) Take it slow
While any warehouse can have its hectic days, your forklift operators should never hurry when they're behind the wheel, according to the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. Mandating a low speed limit - and posting signs to remind drivers and other workers of those limits - is a must for safe ongoing operations.
6) Make sure pallets are loaded properly
Finally, because forklifts are designed to get heavy loads from Point A to Point B with speed and precision, those loads have to be properly balanced, the Washington DLI said. Some of that can be done by other employees as they pack up pallets, but drivers need to be cautious about how they lift, balance and carry those loads through your facility.