Safety is vital in the warehouse, and this year's Forklift Safety Week begins on June 8. But to truly observe it properly, you have to start your preparations for it now. That begins with knowing what you want to impart, as an organization, both for individual drivers and your entire operation.
The following tips should help you get a better handle on forklift safety this month — and beyond:
1) Check them before each use
Drivers should know to never assume their forklifts are in perfect shape before starting them up and getting to work, according to Atlantic Training. A quick inspection of the state of the tires, ensuring the engine is properly oiled, and that the various mechanisms and lights work appropriately will help to drastically reduce risk of an accident or critical breakdown.
2) Never leave an idling forklift unattended
Just like it's a bad idea to leave a car or truck running, a forklift — especially one carrying a load — should never be left alone, Atlantic Training advised. The reason for this is simple: If you don't keep an eye on an active vehicle (of any type), the likelihood of something going wrong increases. Even a slight increase in safety risk should be seen as unacceptable.
3) Set workplace standards for safe operation
When using forklifts in your warehouse, everyone needs to be on the same page when it comes to how they will be used, and how people will have to work alongside them, Atlantic Training further recommended. Fully codifying a forklift use plan and distributing it to every employee will help ensure there's no confusion about everyone's role when a forklift is in use, and that greatly reduces risk.
4) Know your forklifts' limits
Everyone who uses a forklift should be fully trained and certified to do so, but they should also know what the lift they are using can handle, according to Big Rentz. With that kind of base-level understanding, it becomes easier to work safely and simultaneously avoid unnecessary strain on the machinery itself.
5) Give drivers 360 degrees of visibility
Unfortunately, it's not always easy for forklift operators to know what's going on around them as they navigate a warehouse, but you should make it easier, Big Rentz added. Installing mirrors that help drivers see as much as possible of the area in front of and behind them, as well as on their sides, is a must for safe operation.
6) Drive with pedestrians in mind
A warehouse is a bustling hub of activity and there are many, many moving parts that all have to interact safely, according to Graphic Products. For that reason, your forklift operators need to take it slow, make sure to engage all visual and audible warning systems, and be on the lookout for other workers who may not be paying full attention to the forklift.
7) Lay out 'roads' with proper signage
It will be helpful to both drivers and pedestrians to clearly delineate the areas where forklifts will be driving on your warehouse floor, Graphic Products said. Marking off "lanes" where drivers must stay between the lines reduces accident risk, as do things like stop signs, "crosswalk" warnings and more.