If your factory is like most manufacturing businesses, you rely on forklifts and other heavy equipment to move materials and finished products throughout your facility and out the door every day. However, you might not be doing enough to make sure the people operating those machines, or just working around them, are as safe as they could be.
The following steps will help ensure everyone is more likely to get through the work day safely, even with heavy forklift activity in your factory:
1) Buckle up
Just like any other vehicle your employees drive — whether for work or personal use — it's vital to make sure the safety belt is secured and properly fitted to the operator, according to J.J. Keller & Associates. It's a simple step to take, but it can reduce the risk of injury significantly in the event of an accident large or small.
2) Be on the lookout for pedestrians and other traffic
Perhaps the most common cause of accidents involving forklifts is drivers colliding with pedestrians, other vehicles or equipment, J.J. Keller & Associates said. Drivers should always keep an eye out for potential obstacles, especially if they're moving, but also take it slower in high-traffic areas.
3) Make the forklift highly visible (and audible)
Of course, drivers can do plenty to avoid collisions, but if others aren't paying attention, it won't matter, J.J. Keller & Associates further advised. As such, you would be wise to install warning light systems and backup alerts, as well as potentially repainting vehicles to be more reflective and mandating that drivers wear safety vests.
4) Come to a stop around intersections
As a rule, your drivers should know that any time they come to an intersection, it's vital to come to a complete stop so they can re-assess the situation, according to Conger. Are there any other workers or vehicles around? What does the road ahead look like? Adding in a quick beep of the horn will help alert others to the vehicle's presence and keep all involved that much safer.
5) Don't obstruct views with a too-large load
Whenever possible, your drivers should not be carrying a load so large they can't see out the front of the lift, Conger noted. While this obviously isn't always feasible, the more you can do to ensure there's no obstruction, the lower your accident risk.
6) Effectively maintain all vehicles
Drivers can only do so much to keep themselves and others safe; there's an institutional responsibility as well, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Ensure that all vehicles are well-maintained, and inspected before and after every use, so failures are extremely unlikely to occur.
7) Only let trained operators get behind the wheel
Finally, it's critical that the only people operating forklifts in any way have full certification to do so and are fully trained in all your unique in-house procedures, OSHA added. That way, there's far less chance of an accident and you can be confident in the professionals who drive these vehicles.