How to stay safe around forklifts? First we have to understand how forklifts work. This understanding will give us a better foundation when formulating safety measures. In addition, we’ll understand the common causes of failures in operation and manoeuvring of forklifts.
How forklifts work
The invention of forklifts resulted from the necessity of moving heavy loads efficiently (with less manual labour and lower expenses). Take note that forklifts are just small in size (comparable to typical cars) and yet they can lift thousands of kilograms of weight and carry it several metres high up the shelves.
Forklifts accomplish this with the use of hydraulic cylinders and pulleys. The power and mechanism focus more on the lifting function and less on the complicated manoeuvring of the vehicle. After all, forklifts often only require forward or backward motion. In addition, the driving speed is very limited compared to the cars on road.
Common forklift failures
Forklifts have limited manoeuvring capabilities. That’s where the dangers come in. Operators might need a few seconds to evade other forklifts or pedestrians who suddenly appear in front or at the back.
For instance, a forklift is running 1.5 metres per second. Then a pedestrian suddenly appears at front (coming from a corner or intersection). The operator might need 2 or 3 seconds to react and activate the brakes.
The forklift’s slow response might also be the result of its heavy load. Many forklifts (and drivers choose to do so) have slow response to brakes. After all, abrupt brakes and backward motions may cause the forklift to tip over (or make the boxes fall onto the pedestrian or floor).
It’s also the case when 2 forklifts meet an intersection. Without a warning or alert system, the forklifts might collide (not enough reaction time to avoid the collision). It’s also possible that when the driver avoids a forklift, the result is hitting a pedestrian at the back.
How to stay safe around forklifts
The solution is to give both the pedestrians and drivers enough time and distance to manoeuvre or get out of the way. Remember that even one second or one metre matters a lot in preventing accidents.
That’s why here at ShockWatch we’ve designed modern alert systems to prevent occupational hazards and keep the employees safe in and around forklifts.
For instance, many companies now have a Pedestrian Alert System in their warehouses. When a pedestrian is about 1 to 6.5 metres near the forklift, the driver will see a flashing warning light. The driver can then slow down or drive carefully forward or backward.
Here at ShockWatch we have other such solutions. You can contact us today and let’s discuss the additional technologies that will keep your warehouse safe for all.