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5 Essential Tips for Forklift Safety

November 13, 2015


Forklifts are wonderful inventions.

They have the ability to streamline all material handling processes.

They can help your business move and store heavy items with safety and ease.

And they are multipurpose, being used in many different applications worldwide within factories, in loading docks and on wharves.

In fact, forklifts have an immense value to any business involved in materials handling or logistics and working in these industries just wouldn’t be the same without them.

While the operation, care and maintenance of your forklift will differ depending on whether it is an industrial or rough terrain model, the safety considerations remain the same.

Here are our 5 essential tips to ensure your forklift operators stay safe so your business can focus on what it does best.

1. Be conscious and alert

Forklift operators are advised to always focus on the road ahead and continually survey the surrounding area for hazards. It is important to ensure that hands are constantly on the wheel and ready to execute a quick and fast manoeuvre if necessary.

Rough terrain forklifts in particular, can challenge the most experienced operators when handled on uneven surfaces. If not carefully traversed, these surfaces can cause a forklift to roll or tip over, resulting in serious damage to your machine and your cargo.

MLT 741

2. Use a forklift simulator as a preliminary exercise

A forklift simulator provides new operators with an insight into some of the hardships that they may face in dynamic outdoor environments. It doesn’t give you the exact experience of a rough terrain, but it does provide a taste of what to expect. Training and preparation is important to help operators be ready for working in harsh conditions.

3. Ensure tyres are well-inflated

Operators should ensure the tyres are well-inflated prior to using a forklift. Over-inflated tires have the possibility of exploding and causing irreversible damage to the machine, while under-inflated tyres can lower a forklift’s underside and reduce clearance between the forklift and the surfaces it travels on. Under-inflated tyres can also result in premature and uneven wear on your tyres so be sure to always check your pressures before commencing work.

4. Observe the weather

Weather conditions can have adverse impacts on operating environments, particularly rough terrains. Rain can reduce traction and stability in industrial applications, and increase the chances of a rough terrain forklift becoming bogged in muddy locations.  Be a prepared and attentive operator – check weather conditions before heading out, only drive your machine as fast as conditions will allow, and stop at any time that your visibility is reduced or you feel your forklift’s operation or stability is compromised.

5. Brush up on your safety knowledge

In addition to the training your company may provide its forklift operators, there is a vast amount of information and additional training courses available online to help keep you up-to-speed with the latest developments in forklift safety.

A useful resource for brushing up on your knowledge is a publication titled Forklift Safety – Reducing the Risk, produced by WorkSafe WA, a division of the Department of Commerce.


One final note…

While forklifts are a valuable asset for many of today’s businesses, forklift and general workplace safety needs to be a team effort between employees and employers in order for companies to avoid incidents, accidents and injuries.

Complacency, fuelled by a poor attitude to workplace and forklift safety, can result in thousands of dollars in fines, damage to a company’s reputation, lost customers and, in extreme cases, business closure.

Ask yourself: Is it worth the risk?

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