Forklift Risk Machine Mixed Fleet

Reducing Forklift Risks in the Warehouse

Sept. 17, 2020
Fleet management technology can help prevent forklift mishaps from occurring.

The safety and well-being of forklift operators around the world is of utmost importance. In developed economies, the human and financial cost of forklift-related incidents for the employees, industry and community is substantial.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, forklifts caused 85 work-related deaths and 7,940 nonfatal injuries in 2018. Non-fatal injuries in 2018, were around 16% more than that in 2015.

However, there are precautions and initiatives companies can undertake to prevent these incidents from occurring.

Prevent Unauthorized Use

Around the world, government safety agencies require personnel to obtain forklift certification before they are authorized to operate lift trucks due to the high-risk nature associated with working with heavy equipment. Today, companies are required to keep a record of employee’s certificates, making note of when they need to be renewed. It is, however, not easy to keep up-to-date with current and expired certificates when this information is recorded manually. The use of an industrial fleet management system can prevent unauthorized use of forklifts with workers needing a pin code or swipe card to access a machine. Such a system can also keep a record of valid certificates, ensuring everyone operating the machines are legally authorized to do so.

Pre-operational Forklift Checklist

A pre-operational forklift checklist requires that operators check that the forklift is in safe, working order before they start. This checklist would typically comprise of checking tires, fluids, seating, warning devices, seatbelt, controls and brakes. It is important a system be implemented that is both easy to manage and has longevity. Manual, paper checklists can often become quite tedious and people can become complacent about them. Due to these reasons, many companies are going digital by implementing fleet management solutions to address this safety compliance issue. A multi-lingual checklist function can help ensure operators can use their preferred language.

Ensure a Seatbelt is Worn at All Times

It might sound so simple, but wearing a seatbelt while operating a forklift is the most important safety precaution that operators can take. Seatbelts play a significant role in lessening the chance of serious injury and even death should a rollover occur. However, it is quite common for operators to overlook this simple task when operating a forklift for just a few minutes; for example, when they need to move a forklift a short distance to relocate it. These bad habits must be broken, and a buckle monitoring system that alerts and reports when a seatbelt is not worn can ensure compliance as they can reinforce safety policy and training at the site. These alert systems are a feature of various fleet management systems.

Speed Alerts

It is one thing to put in place a speed limit for forklift operators, but it is another to enforce that people abide by it to ensure safety. It is not 100% reliable as there is human error/disobedience. Being able to alert drivers when they’re exceeding the speed limit helps to prevent accidents occurring that are caused from speeding, such as driving into trucks and other equipment, or even rollovers. Speed alerts can create behavioral changes and can be executed with fleet management solutions.

Forklift Maintenance

A forklift maintenance program should be mandatory in any organization operating these industrial trucks. Preventive maintenance and inspections should be performed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and relevant standards. This servicing schedule should also adhere to attachments added to the forklift. In addition, all service should be carried out by someone qualified or trained to do so. It is easy to let service slide or perhaps be forgotten about entirely. The use of a service scheduler, via a fleet management solution, can help ensure the person in charge receives a notification when a service is due, based on hours and the calendar year. In addition to this, service personnel can be alerted to any checklist maintenance issues promptly.

Reporting Hazards

An “out of service” feature on some fleet management systems can enable units to be locked out in the event of an impact. The unit can only be re-activated by the appropriate manager or technician.

While the safety and well-being of employees are the most important reason for ensuring all these rules are abided by at all times, compliance also weighs in heavily. Companies have a duty of care for their staff, especially those operating heavy machines such as forklifts. Digitizing the process improves safety exponentially, and ultimately saves organizations money.

Grahame Don is industrial senior business development manager with RCT, a producer of machine automation, protection and information systems. The company is headquartered in Australia.

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