32 NEWEQUIPMENT.COM I MAY 2020Forklifts are often the workhorse of any productive warehouse or facility, but, as with any heavy machin- ery moving throughout a facility or warehouse, they also represent one of the most significant hazards inthe workplace.
Forklift operators and other employees working aroundheavy equipment are at risk of hazards such as collisions,tip-overs, and struck-by conditions, for example. Today,forklifts are safer than ever, but only when crews followproper safety procedures.
Here are 10 safety tips to help ensure employee safetyand prevent hazards:
1. Complete a routine check of equipment before operat-
ing and notify management with damages or problems.
2. Wear personal protective equipment as providedby the employer. Hard hats, protective footwear, andhigh-visibility clothing are recommended when working around forklifts.
3. Always wear a seatbelt while operating a forklift. It’simportant for operators to buckle up while operating asit-down forklift, as overturned forklifts are a leadingcause of forklift-related accidents. Wearing a seatbeltcan save operators from being crushed by a machine’soverhead guard or roll cage in the event of an accident.
4. Keep loads within the forklift’s weight capacity. Byexceeding the weight capacity of a forklift, employeescan greatly increase the risk of tipping the machine.These load capacities can be double-checked in theequipment’s operating manual and are also listed onthe machine itself.
5. Operate at a safe speed, use the horn when visionis obstructed, and use caution on grades or ramps.Operators should use the horn to alert pedestrians orother forklift operators nearby to avoid an unnecessary collision. Take corners and turns slowly to minimize the risk of tipping.
6. Set the parking brake, lower the forks, and set any controls to neutral when finished operating. Safely parkedmachines reduce the risk of unintended movement whenleft unattended. If a forklift is parked on an incline, employees can further secure the machine with wheel blocks.
For businesses operating propane forklifts, here are afew fuel-specific safety reminders to keep in mind, too:
7. Inspect propane cylinders prior to operation. Checkcylinders for rusting, dents, gouges or worn O-ringsand valves. Cylinders that show signs of wear or leaksshouldn’t be used and may need to be replaced, even ifwithin the cylinder’s requalification date.
By Jeremy Wishart
Prevent workplace hazards with these easy-to-implement forklift safety reminders.Crews Should Keep Top of Mind
8. Store cylinders in a secure rack or cage. Propanecylinders can be stored horizontally with the pressurerelief valves in the uppermost position, and operatorsshould use proper lifting techniques when removingthem from storage and placing onto the forklift. Afacility’s local propane supplier can help determinethe best location for the cylinder storage rack or cage,which is generally located away from exits, stairways,entryways, and high-traffic areas.
9. Close the service valves on cylinders when not inuse to prevent unintended fuel loss and potential injury around internal combustion engines.
10. Ensure the pressure relief valve on the propane cyl-
inder is secure and pointing away from the locat-
ing pin. Check that the pressure relief valve fitting
is roughly 180-deg. from the forklift’s locating pin.
It’s also important to note that the propane industry
has dedicated procedures to support businesses operating
with propane-powered equipment, including assistance
from local propane suppliers across the country. Propane
suppliers can provide additional safety support in a variety
of ways. For starters, they can help crews identify the most
convenient location for cylinder cages, so they don’t inter-
fere with workflow. They can also inspect cylinders each
time they’re exchanged, remove damaged cylinders from
service, and repair and replace worn valves and O-rings on
cylinders as needed. Propane suppliers also work to ensure
all employees understand how to install propane cylinders
on their forklifts safely, and some propane suppliers of-
fer additional safety training opportunities for forklift
Regardless of forklift energy source, it’s imperative forfacility managers and forklift operators to regularly review and practice proper forklift safety procedures.