Operating Your Forklift Trucks Safely

Finding used forklifts that are right for your own workspace is only one part of ensuring your business remains productive and safe. Once you have found the right truck that will safely handle loads of the relevant weight, retrieved from a specific height, you will also need to consider how your trucks are operated to make certain that those driving your forklifts, as well as all those around them, are as safe as possible.

Whilst many of the right approaches to forklift safety will involve nothing more than common sense, there are still many of safety issues that can be overlooked, and when forklifts have been used on a premises for many years, it is very easy for those around them to become complacent.

Before you start

Before any driver gets behind the wheel of a forklift, it will be vital that they have been properly trained and have the correct licence to legally use the vehicle. Any driver should also ensure they are wearing appropriate clothing including hard hat, hi-vis jacket and relevant footwear. Clothing should also not be too loose as such items can easily become caught on machinery.

Before starting the engine, operators should examine the forklift, noticing any damage or issues and reporting them to their superiors. By checking brakes, steering and tyres prior to each use, individuals will be far safer once they get to work. They should also ensure they are in the right position prior to starting the engine, correctly seated within the cab area, and have their seatbelt on.

Operating forklifts

Anyone driving a forklift will need to pay full attention to what is going on around them and ensure they follow all site guidelines and procedures to the letter, using the vehicle only in designated areas that are safe for its use. Knowing the truck itself will also be important to make sure it is not pushed beyond its limitations in terms of weight, height or speed. Speed limits will need to be adhered to and individuals will need to be aware of the height and width of their vehicle to ensure they do not damage property, the vehicle or those around them.

All hazards should be labelled within the workspace and any corners should be taken carefully, especially those that are sharp or tight.

Before moving off, it will be important to check the stability of loads, making sure the weight is evenly distributed and using securing measures where appropriate. It will also be important to check terrain in advance to ensure that, whilst moving loads, no unforeseen issues will crop up. When loading, always adhere to weight limits and do not use the forks as a lever to push or tip loads. Furthermore, be aware at all times of those around you and only use the vehicle when you have full and clear visibility. If necessary, enlist help rather than taking chances.

After use

The safe use of forklifts is not just about moving loads correctly, but also about making sure the forklifts are safe after use, whether during refuelling or when being left unattended. Only refill forklifts in designated areas, whilst the vehicles are switched off, and once you have finished using a vehicle, ensure it is parked in designated locations. Before leaving trucks unattended, always lower the forks to the ground, making sure that trucks have been turned off and the keys removed.

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