Many manufacturers rely on forklifts and similar heavy equipment to transport goods and other large loads around their facilities quickly and efficiently. However, operating these machines around workers poses some unique safety challenges, so it's certainly something for companies to examine carefully on an ongoing basis.
The following tips should help ensure there are far fewer forklift-related accidents and, as a result, keep your company running smoothly for a long time to come:
1) Make sure all operators are fully trained and certified
Simply put, employees who have been through a full safety training course specifically for the heavy equipment in your factory should be the only ones using it, according to Graphic Products. The skills related to driving a forklift safely bear only a passing resemblance to driving a car, truck or other vehicle, and it's vital to make sure everyone who gets behind the wheel of your in-house equipment has the certification to do so. Even minor errors can be disastrous.
2) Know the common mistakes
There are many basic ins and outs when it comes to operating a forklift successfully, like making sure the load is properly secured and angled backward, not letting people ride it outside the driver's seat and so on, Graphic Products noted. Discourage any of these negative behaviors and make sure drivers know the best practices for operation, and there shouldn't be a problem.
3) Don't be afraid to drive backwards
One of the biggest issues forklift drivers may face in your factory is that the pallets and other items they transport may obstruct or totally block their vision, according to Creative Safety Supply. In these cases, drivers should never lean to one side or the other, stand up behind the wheel or otherwise operate the machinery in a way it was not intended for. Instead, it's safer to drive it in reverse and, as an added bonus, the vehicle should emit a beeping noise that makes others more aware of its course.
4) Keep an eye on overhangs
It's not always easy to judge when a fully loaded forklift is too tall to pass through doorways and other overhangs that may exist at various points throughout your facility, Creative Safety Supply added. Drivers should never assume they have enough clearance unless they know for sure what the measurements of both those overhangs and their loads are; when in doubt, it's always a better idea to check.
5) Operate with the environment in mind
Depending on the location of your factory, there may be many situations where forklifts and similar vehicles are moving through different environments, according to Bastian Solutions. For instance, moving out of a factory and onto a loading dock in winter conditions may pose unique challenges - such as slick surfaces - of which drivers must be aware to operate safely, and those around it must be aware to work safely. When everyone is on the same page, it should be much easier to keep a clean safety record.
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