Safety Advice for Forklift Drivers

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Forklift trucks play a key role in most working environments. Improving logistics and streamlining processes for all manner of business operations. However, in the UK alone, material handling equipment reportedly causes 1,500 injuries per year, so it is imperative that regular forklift safety training and full vehicle maintenance is conducted.

Accident prevention should be at the forefront of your mind, and proper training will ensure that all staff follows best practice, whether they operate machinery themselves or work alongside those who do, ensuring that the whole workforce is able to identify and remove potential hazards before they become real dangers.

Keeping your fleet properly maintained is of paramount importance, crucial to staff safety. So below we offer some expert advice for warehouse managers and forklift operators alike.

Fork modification and repairs

It is a legal requirement to have thorough examinations of forklift machinery conducted by trained professionals every year, ensuring that all vehicles remain in good working order. Additionally, daily checks must be performed before the start of every shift, inspecting the truck for sign of damage.

Under no circumstances should you attempt to fix damaged forks yourself; repair work must only be carried out by a competent person or the manufacturer to ensure that health and safety standards are met.

Likewise, you should never attempt to carry out any alterations. Heat treatments, such as welding, may cause changes to the material structure, increasing the chance of forks fracturing. Undertaking your own modifications puts staff in danger, and if something goes wrong it is likely that you’ll be found liable and forced to pay a significant fine.

Even if making a minor adjustment seems obvious, don’t risk it – always refer the job to a trained expert.

Fork density

It is essential to measure and check forks for signs of wear on a regular basis. A 10% reduction of the nominal thickness means the load-bearing capacity is reduced by approximately 20%, making it time for replacements.

While all forks are manufactured to performance standard BS ISO 2330 – which, in short, means they can lift three times their rated capacity without permanent distortion – different manufacturers have varying standards of quality, so the rates of wear and tear can differ dramatically.

For instance, genuine Linde forks are forged from high-grade carbon alloy steel and we incorporate a heel wear zone of at least 6mm, which ensures they last three times longer than the standard equivalent.

Avoid forklift overload

There are various ways you can overload your forklift truck, and all can be prevented. To circumvent excessive strain on the equipment and avoid overloading, loads should always be lifted with both forks and the rated capacity should be adhered.

Standard forklift trucks are not designed for moving lateral loads or raising loads diagonally, as this tends to cause tilting. However, there are specialist forks available for atypical applications, such as on rotators and upside-down use.

And remember that when lifting loads, the locking devices must always be locked otherwise your forks may slip off!

Slow down and Light the way

A variety of technological innovations are now available to improve safety standards, many of which can be retrospectively fitted. Firstly, Linde Speed Assist is a device that uses radar sensors to detect overhead space, enforcing speed restrictions when indoors, ensuring that drivers don’t go over the limit in busy working environments.

Linde BlueSpot is another piece of kit that can send out a blue light 3-5 metres in front of your forklifts, warning pedestrians of oncoming traffic, particularly useful when approaching blind spots and turning points in noisy environments.

Forklift Tyres

Tyres are an integral part of ensuring the safety and maintenance of your truck. All industrial forklift tyres have a “60J line” which acts as a warning system, indicating when tyres are down to their last 100 hours of use, giving you plenty of time to fit replacements.

You can extend the life of your tyres by maintaining your warehouse floors, fixing potholes and uneven surfaces and ensuring the workspace free of debris.

Keep your warehouse clean

All traces of sawdust, pallet wrap and loose packaging should be removed as it can lead to blocked filters and damage to the shaft bearings. Keeping your warehouse tidy inevitably increases the lifespan of your vehicles, so cleaning should be central to your daily routine.

Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998), it’s a legal requirement to ensure that all warehouse machinery remains in a good state of repair. You can guarantee this – and the safety of your workforce – by booking your annual thorough examination and you keeping up with regular forklift maintenance checks.

If you would like further clarification on any of the above or wish to know more about forklift safety, please contact Linde Aftersales today. We’re always happy to help and have a team of experts on hand to advise you on every aspect of forklift maintenance and safety.