Forklifts can be a gamechanger for your warehouse. They can help you to improve the efficiency of the business operation.
However, you don’t only want your warehouse to be the most efficient place, you also want it to be the safest place it can be. To achieve maximum safety in your warehouse, we have written down the main rules of conduct concerning the safe handling of forklifts. By following these rules and by making them clear to your team, you’ll minimize the risks in your workplace and maximize your employees’ health.
The best way to ensure these rules are followed in your warehouse is to write them down, print them and hang them on a prominent wall!
Rule #1 concerning forklift usage is quite simple: make sure only qualified operators handle the equipment. They know what the machine can and cannot do. Should something happen, these people are perfectly qualified to assess the situation and handle it accordingly. Yes, accidents do happen sometimes, but by respecting ‘Rule #1’ in your warehouse, you significantly minimize the chance of it happening.
In most countries, forklift operators are obliged to have a license for the particular class of truck they will be driving. These licenses can only be delivered after following training by authorized bodies with certified trainers. Some dealers do offer these training or assist you with getting in contact with the certified training centres.
You will also want to make sure that your employees always wear protective clothing. That includes:
- hi-visibility jackets;
- safety shoes;
- hard hats (if necessary).
Not only does protective clothing prevent accidents, but should an accident occur, it can prevent physical damage to your employee.
Always make sure that operators do not operate the machine with greasy/wet hands or wet feet. Both could slide off the controls/pedals and cause an accident. Make sure that all employees can clean their hands and feet before using a forklift.
Last but not least, make sure that the machine is properly inspected every day as described in the user manual. During this inspection, potential hazards can be detected, which can then be addressed immediately. Respect the maintenance schedule of the machine. A machine well cared for is a safe machine.
As a warehouse manager, you’re not the one operating the machines, however, your employees should always pay attention to the following rules when doing so.
The first rule of thumb while operating a forklift is quite simple: always use a forklift only to transport loads it is made for (that does not include human beings).
The safest way to enter a machine is to use steps and bars if possible. It’s ideal if the operator can always maintain 3 points of contact at any given time for maximum stability.
After entering the vehicle, every driver should fasten the seatbelt and adjust the position of the driver’s seat and the steering wheel, so they are sitting and operating in a comfortable position. All Cesab “driver seated” trucks have seatbelts, as well as a warning light on the dashboard to remind the driver to fasten it. Both the driver’s seat and the steering wheel can be easily adjusted to one’s personal needs.
The operator should also pay attention to the surroundings while driving. Make sure they only use designated roadways, are always in control of the truck & looking in the driving direction, and, of course, everyone needs to respect speed limits and keep the required distance.
Nevertheless, it’s not only the driver who’s responsible for driving safety. As manager of the warehouse, you need to take care of the working environment too. Hazards such as potholes or scrap wood should be dealt with as soon as possible.
Another good rule is to use the horn when nearing people, corners, exits, entrances, stairways, doors or walkways. In that way, everyone is alerted of your presence and arrival.
Finally, provide designated areas where the driver can park the forklift after use. Let them lower the forks and apply the parking brake. After that, the forklift is safely parked and ready for the next user.
A forklift’s stability is crucial for warehouse safety. About 30% of all serious forklift accidents are caused by forklifts tipping over sideways. If your team knows how to load your forklift properly, they can avoid those accidents from happening!
You always want to load the truck for maximum stability. That means tilting the load as much to the back as possible and keeping the forks as low as possible. High forks mean decreased stability and a higher probability of the load falling off the truck. No one should drive the truck if the forks are raised high above the floor.
Luckily, Cesab’s Intelligent Stability Design (ISD), standard on the CESAB M300 series, is the safety system that automatically takes the necessary precautions to ensure the stability of the machine and the safety of the driver.
The different features of Intelligent Stability Design (ISD) are the following:
1) The swing lock cylinder
ISD reduces risks during cornering without compromising productivity. If the truck becomes unstable during a turn, the patented Swing lock cylinder automatically locks the rear axle to increase the trucks’ stability. This reduces the risk of a sideways tip-over. Faster than the most experienced driver, ISD provides excellent stability and helps to protect operators and the load.
Because of the locking of the rear axle, the stability triangle becomes a square and the centre of gravity of the truck is further away from the sides; the truck is better protected against side-ways tipping.
2) Mast front tilt angle control
ISD prevents both the load and truck from tipping dangerously forward. Mast front tilt angle control monitors load height and mast position. If necessary, it automatically limits the mast angle to protect the driver and load. This reduces the risk of injury and property damage.
3) Mast rear tilt speed control
When loads are tilted backwards too quickly, they can put the driver, goods and the truck at risk. Mast rear tilt speed control senses possible risk factors and reduces the mast speed accordingly. The load moves surely and steadily into the right position and work carries on.
4) Fork levelling control
Adjusting the forks to a level horizontal position takes a little extra time. With ISD fork levelling control, the forks are levelled at the push of a button, making work easier for the driver, particularly when loads are at height. This saves time, increases productivity and saves you money.
5) Active steering synchronisation
Eliminating hydraulic steering slippage helps operators work safely and more efficiently. The ISD active steering synchroniser does this by automatically aligning the steering wheel with the rear wheels. Your drivers work ergonomically and always know which direction the truck will move for safe, productive operations.
The way someone loads a forklift isn’t the only important factor to take into account. Visibility should also always be one of the main priorities while driving.
To ensure good visibility, drivers need to make sure they can always see where they are going. Thanks to the Intelligent Mast Design (IMD), CESAB provides industry leading levels of visibility and performance.
IMD is an innovative technology designed and engineered exclusively within the CESAB Group. It provides superior forward visibility, smooth operation and durability, while keeping the energy use and maintenance low.
If the load prevents operators from seeing what’s in front of them, they must drive backwards to gain maximum visibility. So, it’s quite simple: drive forward when driving up, drive in reverse when coming down, that way, the load won’t fall off.
When the visibility is still obstructed driving backwards, it’s better to lose some of the load if possible or ask somebody for assistance while driving to maintain a safe working environment.
It’s also important to stack the load correctly and secure it if necessary. Operators should drive slowly while carrying heavy, wide or high loads. The Cesab M300 series, for example, uses Intelligent Stability Design (ISD) to ensure the security of every load. Your employees could distribute the load by using pallets, but they need to watch out for damaged pallets when doing so.
Lastly, everyone has to respect the maximum load capacity of the truck. The last thing you want to happen is an overloaded forklift to tip over. Make sure to stay below the maximum capacity, and both you, your employees and your warehouse should be safe.