Forklift Safety Refresher Course
From the traditional rider-forklifts to specialized order pickers, walk-behinds, and very-narrow-aisle lifts nearly every manufacturing and warehousing operation uses forklifts somewhere in the process to move materials within their facility. Ensure safe forklift operations at your facility by adhering to the following guidelines spelled out below.
Forklift operators have a lot of responsibilities and are required to be both trained and qualified. A new operator will go through a classroom training session and put through a practical exam where they are shown the functionality of the forklift they will be operating as part of their job and their competence is evaluated. These training efforts should be properly documented and maintained on file. Once an operator is qualified they are not required to attend classroom training again unless they are observed driving in an unsafe way – this behavior should trigger mandatory retraining. All operators should be evaluated and requalified annually.
Forklift operators must know and follow equipment operating procedures and safety rules for forklift operation. Specifically they should be aware of equipment capacity, operation, and function; also traffic path and surface hazards. Employees need to understand their loads and materials characteristics. They should be aware of load weight, truck height and any travel clearances. Arguably the most important concept to coach forklift operators on is maintaining awareness of pedestrians in the work environment. Use of high-visibility vests for pedestrians might be advisable in some situations.
Operators should be coached to check the following items daily or before each shift to ensure safe operation of lifts. Inspection actions should be documented and kept on file. Items to evaluate include:
Control Function Steering Fluid Leaks Brakes
Horn Damaged Parts Lights Extinguisher
Back-up Alarm Seatbelt Battery Fuel Level
Coach operators to travel safely on lifts by keeping forks and load close to the floor – elevated only about 4 to 6 inches. Always keep the load against the back rest, tilt the mast back to secure the load on the forks, and maintain at least 10 feet of clearance between the lift and overhead power lines. Ensure proper clearance and encourage operators to get off the lift to view travel path or request help from a spotter if they are unsure. Instruct them never to overload the lift; and maintain awareness of surface hazards and ramps; and to steer clear of drop-offs.
When parking the lift, instruct operators to find a level surface, lower the forks to the floor and set the parking brake. Turn the forklift off so that combustion byproducts in the work environment are minimized. Try to park forklifts in out-of-the-way locations away from hazards and be sure not to block fire exits or emergency equipment such as portable fire extinguishers or eye wash/drench showers.
Concerning dock safety – always get permission before entering a trailer and, inspect the floor for structural integrity. Ensure the wheels are properly chocked or dock lock is positioned correctly. Ask the truck driver to set the parking brake as well if the trailer is attached to a tractor. Make sure loading dock warning lights are properly illuminated and watch for pedestrians and other forklift traffic when exiting the trailer in reverse.
For more information on loss control services contact Jeff Rausch, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, P: 502-708-3124 www.RMSC.com
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