Be it the retail or wholesale sector, the manufacturing industry, warehousing or postal services, forklifts are an integral part of industrial facilities that help optimise workflow and increase productivity.
At first glance, forklifts appear as straightforward, compact and powerful machines for loading, unloading, lifting, or pulling heavy items, but they can be fatal if proper precautions are not taken.
Companies should keep in mind that the legal consequences in the event of a forklift-related accident can be catastrophic, if appropriate workplace safety measures are not in place.
According to a Safe Work Australia report, a forklift operator sustained severe injuries while working for one of Australia’s leading packaging and resource recovery companies. The District Court found a violation of section 19(1)/32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, and fined the company $400,000.
While it is not possible to predict accidents in advance, it is possible to prevent them with adequate training and proper forklift maintenance. Below are five common safety guidelines that will ensure safe operation of forklifts.
Steps to Follow Before Switching Equipment On and Off
Forklift operators must carry out routine check-ups, such as checking for defects in tyres, brakes, warning devices, controls, and steering, before starting the equipment. If there are any damages or problems, they should avoid using the machine and report the issue to the management.
In addition, operators should also check the forklift’s seat position, adjust the mirrors, and before switching the machine on, they should make sure that they are seated safely with all their body parts inside the cabin.
Before switching off the forklift, drivers must ensure that they park the equipment in an authorised or designated area. They should put the forks down, apply the brakes, and remove the key so that the machine does not run unsupervised.
What to Remember While Operating the Equipment
Shift supervisors should know the load capacity of each forklift on the floor, and they should keep an eye on whether the operators are overloading the equipment.
Floor managers should not allow operators to move forklifts carrying loads that exceed the maximum capacity.
Overloading and uneven load distribution can lift the rear wheels from the ground and cause the equipment to overturn.
Most forklift accidents occur because of the equipment tipping over.
If the palates are decayed, damaged, or deformed, operators should immediately notify the shift manager for a replacement.
Ensuring That Operators Are Wearing Proper Clothing and Accessories
Shift managers are responsible for checking whether operators are wearing appropriate protective gear, such as high-visibility jackets, hard hats, and work boots suitable for industrial environments.
The safety wear must fit the operator, as loose outfits can get stuck on the equipment.
The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 mandates employers to ensure that forklift drivers always wear seat belts when operating the machinery.
Seat belts prevent the driver from being ejected and getting crushed under the forklift if the equipment tips over.
Remaining Conscious About the Workplace Environment
Forklift operators should strictly follow all the work site guidelines, paying close attention to road signs, safety symbols, and warning signage.
They should use only the roadways designated for forklifts, maintain clear distances from the edges, and stay mindful of the equipment’s clearance height, overhead guard, and mast.
Choosing the Right Forklift for Your Company
From side loaders to multi-directional, order pickers to reach trucks, and counterbalance forklifts, there are various types of forklifts for different conditions and purposes. Choosing the forklift that best-suits your work environment is the key to ensuring productivity, efficiency, and safety.
If you are looking for new or used forklifts for sale in Sydney, but not sure which one to choose, Mars Forklifts – offering the latest and largest range of forklifts across Australia – can arrange a free, no obligation site survey to suggest the ideal solution for your company.