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SAFETY TIPS FOR FORKLIFT DRIVERS
 Home  ®Essentials  ® Plant  ® Essentials [Print Format] 

Contents


  1. Do a Daily Safety Check . . . A Life Could Depend On It
  2. Know Your Workplace
  3. Understand the Load Chart
  4. Visibility: See and Be Seen
  5. Forklifts Are Versatile and Dangerous
  6. Loads and Load Handling
  7. Raising of Persons on Forklifts


1. DO A DAILY SAFETY CHECK . . . A LIFE COULD DEPEND ON IT
Your employer is responsible for making sure that all forklifts used in your workplace comply with current regulations. The regulations refer to Australian Standards and require that forklifts have the features necessary to do the job required safely.

As an operator, it is in your interest to check that the forklift is in good working condition before starting each shift.

Establish a simple routine and check the following items daily:

1. TYRES
  • Are the tyres cut or damaged?
  • Are the tyres 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 tynes (forks) worn, cracked or bent?
  • Are the tynes 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).
OKFIX

Check the forklift's manual. It will list regular maintenance checks. If there is no manual, make sure one is ordered. Good maintenance means fewer break-downs, and the forklift will last longer.

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.

DON'T DRIVE A FAULTY FORKLIFT
A LIFE COULD DEPEND UPON IT


2. KNOW YOUR WORKPLACE
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.

Your skill and safety as a forklift operator will be improved if you know the area in which you have to work. Before starting work in a new area, walk around and assess the workplace.

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
    • will I hear other traffic?
    • will others hear me?
  • Confined spaces
    • use an electric forklift if possible: exhaust fumes are dangerous in an enclosed area.
  • Lighting conditions
    • will I see people?
    • 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?

If you think there are hazards needing attention, talk to your elected safety and health representative who will take up the issue with management. If there is no safety and health representative in your workplace, talk to your supervisor.


3. 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 tyne to the centre of gravity of the test load which is used to establish the safe working load of the forklift.

The load chart shows the manufacturer's guarantee of the load which can safely be lifted. Increasing the load centre means the forklift becomes less stable.

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 tynes;
  • 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.


4. VISIBILITY : SEE AND BE SEEN
Seeing and being seen saves lives.

Only drive if you can clearly see around the workplace.

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.
  • In Western Australia, a number of deaths and accidents have resulted from people being hit by moving forklifts. Good lighting and high visibility clothing can help keep people safe.


5. FORKLIFTS ARE VERSATILE AND DANGEROUS
A good operator must be aware of the limitations of the forklift. The following points must be taken into account when assessing the forklift's ability to safely perform a particular task.

STABILITY AND LOADS
Forklifts, other than rough terrain machines, are designed to work on hard, level surfaces.

The weight, the shape, size and position of the load all affect the stability of the forklift. When the load is raised, the forklift is less stable.

Backward as well as forward tilt, with the load raised, will affect the stability of the forklift.

TYRES
Tyres must be in good condition and correctly inflated, (where appropriate).

AREA
The area where you are operating the forklift must be hard and free from potholes and obstructions.

RAMPS
Forks should be pointed uphill when traveling with a load on a ramp. Forks should be pointed downhill when traveling without a load on a ramp. Never turn a forklift sideways on a ramp.

TRAVEL SPEED
Always travel at a sensible speed and keep the load low.

BRAKING
Rapid braking can mean the forklift loses stability.

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.


6. LOADS AND LOAD HANDLING
Always check the load before you attempt to lift it.

Check these points before starting:

  • 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.


7. RAISING OF PERSONS ON FORKLIFTS
Your employer is responsible for making sure that all forklifts used in your workplace comply with current regulations. The regulations refer to Australian Standard 2354.2 and require that forklifts have the features necessary to do the job required safely.

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.

If any of the above safety practices cannot be followed, talk to your elected safety and health representative who will take up the issue with management. If there is no safety and health representative in your workplace, talk to your supervisor.

Australian Standard AS 2359.1 - 1985 contains the specification for work platform design and dimensions.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 requires employers to provide, as far as practicable, a safe and healthy workplace. Employees have a duty to take reasonable care of their own safety and health, and of others who may be affected by their workplace activities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 impose regulations on the operation, design and manufacture of forklifts.

These laws exist to protect your safety at work.


WorkSafe Western Australia
 
Document ID: 1404  - Posted: 1/5/1996  - Page Built: 8/2/2006 7:42:36 AM
(mechhazd0004)

Copies of this publication may be freely printed and distributed provided that the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection receives appropriate acknowledgement and that no substantial changes are made to the text.

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