What are the Best Practices for Forklift Operations?

Thousands of serious injuries occur each year due to forklift accidents. A few of those accidents actually resulted to fatalities. With those alarming statistics, most manufacturing and logistics companies now prioritise workplace safety especially when it comes to forklift operations.

Although the number of units and frequency of usage of forklifts have drastically increased through the years, the number of accidents actually decreased. This is due to stricter safety requirements and the commitment of the companies on having an accident-free workplace.

That commitment resulted to the implementation of best practices which include the following:

  1. Detailed training program for both new and existing employees
  2. Providing training to all personnel including non-drivers
  3. Excellent workplace sanitation (surfaces should always be free from spills and debris)
  4. Routine daily inspection before driving the forklift

These practices (along with other effective approaches) significantly reduced the number of accidents even in busy warehouses.

1. Detailed training program for both new and existing employees

The training program should include formal instruction, practical education and evaluation. This is to ensure that forklift drivers gain the necessary knowledge for maintaining safety.

New drivers will learn about the safety risks present during warehouse operations. They will also learn proper operation of material handling equipment (including best practices when mounting or dismounting).

Experienced drivers should also undergo regular training. New safety risks are being identified and the current drivers might not be aware of them yet. In addition, the training could be used as a refresher course wherein drivers could be aware again of the best safety practices.

2. Providing training to all personnel including non-drivers

All personnel working near the forklifts should also be knowledgeable about safety. These personnel are exposed to greater dangers if there are forklifts nearby. For example, a few pedestrians in the past were crushed when the forklift or product tipped over. There were also cases when a personnel was crushed between the forklift and a wall.

That’s why all workers should undergo training regarding safety around forklifts. It may start with advising workers to keep a good distance from areas where forklifts are heavily used. Then, more details will be given (or new technologies applied) to further improve workplace safety.

3. Excellent workplace sanitation (surfaces should always be free from spills and debris)

A clean and orderly workplace tells a lot about the warehouse operations. Aside from being signs of safety and efficiency, excellent cleanliness or sanitation also results to better safety for everyone.

For example, if spills were always immediately cleaned up, there will be lower risks of slips for workers. The spills won’t also get in the way of the forklifts. The spills and debris won’t make contact with the wheels, brake systems and engines. As a result, the forklifts will perform better and drivers will be able to manoeuvre more effectively.

4. Routine daily inspection before driving the forklift

Safety and productivity often relies on consistent application of good practices. These practices are often taken for granted (to the point of being neglected) because these are always present. They’re already a natural part of the work process.

But if the workers stop applying those practices, certainly accident and injury statistics will rise. In addition, lack of those practices means that the company is not being serious about safety. This attribute often transfers to other aspects of work.

How to make pre-shift inspection a routine? Back then operators rely on documents and checklists. Now, forklift operators can use audio-visual display before they can start operating the forklift. This is a convenient way for drivers to adopt the habit.

For instance, the EquipManager includes a configurable pre-shift safety checklist feature. Drivers can refer to that whenever their shift starts. The management team can easily configure the checklist as new safety risks are being identified.

Contact us here at ShockWatch

Here at ShockWatch, we have accident prevention and fleet management solutions that are in active use by multi-national corporations and small businesses. Contact us today and find out how to further improve workplace safety through better forklift operations.