Tips in Operating Forklifts Forklifts are generally used for loads at specific weights. These trucks are important in any industrial workplaces because the operation depends on the forklifts to lift or transport loads around the factory. Although forklifts are very dependable equipments, operating these trucks can still be a potential safety hazard, especially when the operator forgets crucial working procedures. When a forklift operator neglects to stick to these important procedures, it increases the possibility of forklift accidents, which could cause injuries. While forklifts are specifically designed to perform heavy-duty tasks, (not shovel or push snow or dirt piles like I have seen on many employer sites) these trucks could still be damaged after days or years of operation. Therefore, extensive check-ups (both visual and operational, should be performed by the forklift operators before each shift. Visual inspection allows you to examine the general condition of your forklift truck. Always check if the forklift is clear of obstructions above your head. Then, examine if your fire extinguisher and battery are fully charged and secured. In addition, vent caps should not be clogged and forks should not bend or crack. Examine if the dash control panel with its gauges and lights are working properly. Check if the floor brakes and pedals stops smoothly. In addition, examine the gearshift and clutch if it shifts without jerking. Lastly, make sure that the forklift does not give out strange sounds. In operating the forklift, three important guidelines will benefit the safety of all forklift operators. * When loading : Make sure you determine the recommended load capacity of the forklift to ensure it never exceeds the limit. Always position the loads based on the suggested load center. Keep in mind that the forklift should be in a standing position before you insert the fork into the pallet. * When traveling : Make sure you keep your arms, hands, feet, legs and head inside the forklift. Be aware of possible oil spotting, wet floors, people passing and vehicles before your forklift. Ensure that you travel with the forks tilted back and as low as possible from the work area or floor. * When raising your load: Avoid raising or lowering the fork when the forklift truck is still moving. Ensure that you have sufficient overhead clearance when raising the load Lastly, always make sure that no one is standing or walking near the elevated part of your forklift. DO A DAILY SAFETY CHECK Your employer is responsible for making sure that all forklifts used in your workplace comply with current regulations. As an operator, it is in your interest to check that the forklift is in good working condition before starting each shift. DON'T DRIVE A FAULTY FORKLIFT A LIFE COULD DEPEND UPON IT 1. Tires OK FIX Are the tires cut or damaged? Are the tires pumped up to the recommended pressure? 2. MAST Is the mast still straight? Are all the rollers on the mast still in place and turning? Are the chains in good order and correctly adjusted? Is the carriage damaged? Is the backrest still in place? Are the hydraulic cylinders, lift and tilt, leaking? Are the tines (forks) worn, cracked or bent? Are the tines properly attached to the carriage? 3. SEATING Is the seat (or seats) broken or worn out? Is the seat (or seats) firmly attached? Are seat belts fitted? 4. CONTROLS Are the controls clearly marked? Do the controls work properly? 5. WARNING DEVICES Is the horn working? Is the flashing light working? Are the brake and turning lights (if fitted) working? 6. HYDRAULIC FLUIDS Are the hydraulic fluid levels adequate? 7. CAPACITY Is a load plate to the manufacturer's specifications fitted? (Do not use the forklift until this load plate is fitted). 8. BRAKES Are both hand and foot brakes working properly? 9. STEERING Is the steering wheel moving smoothly? There should be no "slack" or "play" in the steering wheel (that is there should be no free movement in the steering wheel before the wheels start to turn). Check the forklift's manual: If any of the above items need fixing talk to your elected safety and health representative who will take up the issue with management. If there is no heath and safety representative in your workplace, talk to your supervisor. Your employer must provide, as far as practicable, a safe workplace. Employees also have a responsibility to protect their own and others' safety in the workplace. So therefore --------Check for: Powerlines - especially overhead power lines. Blind corners Pedestrian areas Low doorways Uneven floors Floor surface finishes Railway tracks Ramps Overhead pipes and fittings Other traffic Wet and dry areas Loading docks Noisy machines o Will I hear other traffic? o Will others hear me? Confined spaces o Use an electric forklift if possible: exhaust fumes are dangerous in an enclosed area. Lighting conditions o Will I see people? o Will they see me? Decide How to Deal With These Dangers Where will I have to stop? Where should I slow down? When should I sound the horn? Where will I need to reverse? What is a safe speed to travel at? UNDERSTAND THE LOAD CHART The capacity of the forklift is the weight it can safely lift at a specific load centre. The load centre is the distance from the heel of the tire to the centre of gravity of the test load which is used to establish the safe working load of the forklift. The weight, shape and size of the load will have a big effect on how you should move it: fork arms should be below axle level when traveling; loads should always be against the heel of the tines; extra weight should not be added to the counterbalance in order to carry a bigger load; the forklift should not be overloaded - it will cause loss of steering control. To keep the forklift stable and avoid it tipping over take into account: the weight and shape of the load; the height you are going to lift the load; the forward or backward tilt of the load; the area over which you need to travel. The load shape affects the centre of gravity and the load stability. Seeing and being seen saves lives. Your view from a forklift is often blocked by the load. A test of good visibility is being able to see a person crouching down five metres away from the forklift operators' seat. If you can't see over the load, drive in reverse. Do not reverse up an incline; if you can't see over the load get someone to direct you. Raising the load to see under it is not a safe practice. The forklift becomes unstable. When driving into a darker area or into bright sunshine, stop, and let your eyes adjust to the light. Be aware of "blind spots" created by the mast, the lift cylinder or other parts of the forklift. Even small parts of the forklift may block out large areas of the workplace. Remember, something or somebody may have moved since you passed through a particular area. Good lighting and high visibility clothing can help keep people safe. SMOOTH AND EFFICIENT OPERATION CAN REDUCE OPERATOR FATIGUE. IT WILL ALSO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE AND REDUCE THE POSSIBILITY OF DAMAGE TO LOADS AND THE FORKLIFT. LOADS AND LOAD HANDLING check these points before starting: Always check the load before you attempt to lift it. Is the load stacked correctly? If not, organize re-stacking. Is the pallet in good condition? Remove damaged pallets from service. Is the load within the load limit of the forklift? (If in doubt, check the load plate). Does the shape of the load require special precautions such as lifting from the other side or tying it to the carriage or backrest? What is the point of balance? If the load is made up of pieces of different lengths for example, the operator must ensure that the point of balance is in the middle of the forks when the load is lifted. Does the size of load limit your forward vision, and mean you will need to drive in reverse? You may need someone to guide you. Will you need to take a different route because of the height or width of the load? DO NOT LIFT A LOAD THAT EXTENDS ABOVE THE LOAD BACKREST UNLESS THE LOAD IS SECURED AND CANNOT FALL BACK ON TO THE DRIVER. RAISING OF PERSONS ON FORKLIFTS Persons may only be raised on a forklift in a work platform to perform special tasks of short duration, and where it is not possible to use a scaffold or elevated work platform. Where platforms supported by industrial trucks are used to support personnel, the following safety practices must be observed: the industrial truck must be used on a hard level surface. when lifting in an area subject to any passing traffic, barriers or warning signs must be used to prevent interference while the platform is in use. the industrial truck travel controls must be in the neutral position with parking brake engaged. the mast must be set in the vertical position. the forks must be set in the horizontal position. controls other than lifting and lowering controls must be immobilized. the operator and every person to be elevated must check the platform is securely attached to the carriage or fork arms. the operator must stay at the controls at all times while persons are raised. the operator must watch for overhead obstructions and proximity to electrical conductors. before any person is elevated or supported by the platform the operator must lift the platform to the required work height to confirm that all systems are functioning correctly and clearing overhead obstructions. work must be carried out only with personnel standing on the floor of the platform. Ladders or other means shall not be used to gain additional height. the platform must not be used to transport personnel. There are many safety areas to consider when operating forklifts. This safety training program will only focus on driving tips. Here are some of the most important safety tips to follow when operating a forklift: Pedestrians everywhere it’s just like driving in a school or play ground zone, Slow(down) Know (where they are at all times and the knowledge of working in or near forklifts) Go Slowly ( speed not only kills, it injuries a lot of people and isn’t part of any job site safety) • Be aware of pedestrians and give them the right-of-way. • Don’t let anyone walk or stand under the raised forks. • Keep a clear view so you can avoid pedestrians or obstacles in your path. • Never let a person get between the forklift and a hard surface like a wall, table, bench or any other fixed object. • Never let anyone ride on the forks for any reason. • Use your horn, mirrors and proper lighting Fork Lift Safety Suggestion on load movement Before Driving • Always use your seatbelt. • Always look before backing up. • Use a spotter when visibility is impaired. Lifting a Palletized Load 1. Drive to the pallet. This applies to either a pallet on a lower or upper shelf. Stop with the fork 3 inches from the load. 2. Level the mast. The mast must be at right angles to the load. 3. Raise the forks to 1 inch below the slot on the pallet. 4. Drive forward into the pallet. 5. Lift forks 4 inches. 6. Tilt back load until secured for travel. If load will obscure vision drive the lift in reverse taking care while turning as the extra swing may cause load instability. 7. Look back. Honk. Drive back so that load clears the pallets below. 8. Lower the load to 3 inches above ground. Do not drag forks on the ground. 9. Materials and equipment are to be loaded on the forklift in a manner that prevents any movement of the load that could create a hazard to workers or others. 10. All loads that could be subject to shifting during transport are to be restrained if shifting would result in the forklift becoming unstable. Picking Up Drums 1. Use a turn able fork clamp, notched drum forks, or drum arms. Pick up drums in upright position if ribs are large. Forks must be spaced accurately to obtain a safe grip. 2. Tilt mast forward, slide fork tips along floor to position forks under object, raise forks slightly and tilt back to cradle road for travel. Traveling 1. Do not drive with arms, head or legs outside the confines of the forklift 2. Turn forklift only when the forks are lowered to a safe travelling height. 3. Drive only on smooth surfaces such as cement or asphalt, this vehicle is not designed to operate on rough terrain. 4. Ensure that the operating (road) surface is free from ice. Use tire chains if required. 5. Avoid operating forklift in high volumes of pedestrians. Wait for a quieter time to deliver to busy congested areas. 6. When operating in area of pedestrian traffic minimize risk to others by cordoning off areas with signage and/or traffic cones to prevent walk through traffic. 7. Use horn as a warning device for oncoming pedestrians. 8. Drive to point of deposit. Position the forklift in front of deposit area. Unloading Pallets 1. Raise load 5-10 inches above the unloading point (space permitting). 2. Drive forward stopping 3-4 inches in front of deposit point. 3. Tilt mast forward to a right angle position so load is level. 4. Drive forward until load is aligned with corners of the stack. 5. Stop. Lower load to resting-place. Stack pallets loaded with cases, cartons straight and square. Stagger the top tier to "tie-in place". Unloading Round Objects 1. Stack round objects together tight and straight. 2. Hold securely in place with wedges. 3. To nest round objects - place the bottom tier tightly together and secure with wedges. Place wedges against each roll in the bottom for a more secure stack. 4. Look behind you. Back up so that forks clear other pallets. 5. Lower forks to 3 inches from the ground. Operations on Grades and Ramps 1. Never turn on an angled grade. 2. Keep unloaded forks facing downgrade. 3. Loaded forks face upgrade. Parking 1. Tilt the upright forward until the forks are level or flat on the floor. 2. Apply the parking brake place transmission in neutral; chock the wheels if you have any doubt about the forklift moving A Forklift Safety Awareness Reminder Quiz How familiar are you with forklifts and their safe operation ( you took the course, how good is your memory)? Take this quiz and find out. What have you got to loose, ( a life, a coworker, an workplace incident) 1.) It is very easy to tip over on ramps and sloped surfaces whether the forklift is loaded or unloaded. a.) True. b.) False. 2.) When driving on ramps with a grade of 10 percent or more with a loaded forklift, you must always keep the load uphill, even if it means driving in reverse down the ramp. a.) True. b.) False. 3.) Because a forklift weighs more, it is much easier to brake to a stop than an automobile. a.) True. b.) False. 4.) A forklift driver must always look… a.) In the mirrors. b.) Around his/her load. c.) In the direction of travel. d.) Forward. 5.) What should you do when you approach an intersection? a.) Slow down and sound the horn. b.) Check for hazards by leaning out of the cab. c.) Turn slowly and smoothly. d.) Get through as quickly as possible. 6.) To lift people using a forklift, the operator must… a.) Lift people with bare forks. b.) Use a pallet to provide a platform. c.) Move a truck near a wall for fall protection. d.) None of the above. 7.) When forward visibility is obstructed or blocked… a.) Look around the load. b.) Proceed forward slowly and with due caution. c.) Drive in reverse. d.) None of the above. 8.) Never enter a trailer or railroad car unless… (for those working around CPR and CN operations) a.) The spotter is present. b.) The forklift’s fuel tank and battery are fully charged. c.) The trailer or railcar is locked in place with wheel chocks. d.) There is a spotter inside the trailer or railroad car. 9.) A forklift operator’s first concern should be… a.) Increasing the speed of loading and unloading. b.) Making sure the vehicle is in safe working condition. c.) Checking shift changes for the load/unload schedule. d.) Stabilizing the forks on all trucks used in a shift. 10.) Which of the following is a warning sign that the forklift may need to be taken out of service and repaired? a.) Leaks for the fuel system. b.) A brake pedal that feels spongy. c.) Exhaust fumes that make you feel sick. d.) All of the above. Answers to Forklift Safety Quiz 1.) a. 2.) a. 3.) b. 4.) c. 5.) a. 6.) d. 7.) c. 8.) c. 9.) b. 10.) d.