Workplace safety: 9 important tips for operating a forklift

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Workplace safety 9 important tips for operating a forklift

Forklifts are an imperative piece of warehousing logistical equipment, being responsible for the transport of goods throughout a warehouse setting. However, their mobility and weight also make them one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment you’ll find in a warehouse, with a range of potential accidents occurring when in operation.

However, with proper operation, this risk is exponentially reduced. Procedures like checking the fork lift parts, wearing PPE and considering the surrounding environment are all imperative to ensuring forklift safety is achieved.

Let’s take a look at nine important tips for operating a forklift below: 

  1. Your operator must be qualified

In Australia, it is illegal for people to operate a forklift without a licence. Why? Because forklifts are different to any other piece of transport equipment and therefore have a specific operational system that must be mastered before use in a professional setting.

  1. Protective equipment is worn

Each forklift operator must be equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) when operating the machine. This includes a hard hat, hi-vis jacket, safety boots and potentially other equipment depending on the workplace.

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  1. The forklift is examined before use

Operators must examine the forklift before use. A thorough forklift evaluation must be completed to ensure the forklift can be safely operated without any mechanical or electrical faults risking employee safety. This includes completing a full safety checklist with things like transmission, lights and railing all priorities.

  1. It must be started safely 

Once the forklift operator has completed a thorough safety check it is important for them to start up the forklift in a safe manner. This includes grabbing the hand grabs and using the steps to seat themselves properly; ensuring every operational control is well within reach and the driver ensuring they are correctly seated and with safety belt on before operating the machine.

  1. They should always consider their surroundings 
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Forklift operators, as well as being licenced to drive the forklift, must also follow all rules pertaining to the workplace. This includes only operating the forklift in the designated driving areas; taking note of all signage and not operating near the edges of any loading docks.

  1. They should always operate at a safe speed

Factories and warehouses are riddled with hazards (including the forklift itself), not to mention employees that may for some reason come into a forklift’s driving line.

Therefore, it is important that the forklift operator always maintains a safe speed to reduce risk of collision with people or warehouse goods.

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  1. They should be aware of hazards

Forklift operators should be well aware of any potential warehouse hazards and make a conscious effort to avoid them. Hazards can include anything from bumps in the warehouse floor to loose ground objects, trucks and anything else that could be a safety risk.

  1. Ensure the load is always stable

A precarious load is one of the most common causes of forklift accidents. Therefore, operators must take special care to ensure their load is safe and stable. This includes checking the load’s stability; driving with the forks low and the load tilted back; checking for overhead obstacles before lifting a load and ensuring loads are correctly positioned across the forks.

  1. Ensure that visibility is always clear

The forklift operator should always enjoy clear visibility when operating the forklift. Hazards can appear out of nowhere if the operator’s visibility is inhibited, and this kind of hazard can easily be fatal. Therefore, they should always have clear visibility when operating the forklift.

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