culture that reduces accidents, you must take a holistic approachthat considers each aspect of safety while emphasizing the roleof the individual. Vital components of a holistic program include:
Compliance management that controls access and automatesprocesses.
That being said, a number of our customers begin their safetyimprovement journey by looking to reduce forklift impacts. Fleetand operator management systems enable managers to collect awealth of data that helps create an accurate picture of how the vehicle and operator are performing. Which operators are exhibitingincorrect behavior? Which areas of the facility or shifts see themost impacts? Facility leadership can then use this data to makeadjustments in training, maintenance and facility layout. They canalso set thresholds to quickly be alerted when an impact occurs sothey can investigate.
TOM LEGO: People may think that accidents occur when
equipment malfunctions. This is actually quite rare. Warehouses
and distribution centers are dynamic places and have processes
that involves drivers, operators and the environment. The starting
point for everyone is to have good, reliable equipment that is being
properly maintained and in dependable condition through proper
routine maintenance and daily inspections. Toyota, through our
dealers, helps make sure these types of scenarios are safer by as-
sisting customers with choosing the right equipment for the right
job. Other safety considerations might include:
• Is the operator properly trained and using the forklift for
its intended use?
• Does the operator have a daily inspectionchecklist for the forklift?
• Are there improvements in warehouselayout, traffic flow, markings, or separationsthat should be made?
• Are there any blind spots? Does lightingneed to be improved? Are there surfaces thatneed additional traction?
• Are there other accessories which might beconsidered that could help support operators andthose interacting with the equipment?
• Are there adequate procedures in place forgood clear communications between workers orpedestrians in the area and the forklift operators?
DON BUCKMAN: Like many supply chain challenges, labor is a good place tostart. Warehouses have extremely high turnover—46.1% in 2019. And with such high turnover, you have a lot of people coming into newroles, without a lot of time and experience in thatposition, much less in that specific operating environment. In some cases, operators may have zeroexperience.
In addition to a lack of experience and training,some other causes of forklift accidents include:
Speeding: OSHA advises drivers to stay at orbelow 5 miles per hour.
Operating with an elevated load: Operators are encouraged tocarry loads as near to the ground as possible.
Insufficient warnings and markings: In workplaces with bothfoot- and forklift traffic, it’s important to mark forklift zones.
Operator inattention and distraction, along with a lack of understanding the differences of a lift truck vs. a pedestrian vehicle (e.g.,stopping distances, center of gravity, steering swing, etc.) can alsoimpact overall lift truck safety, including property damage.
JACK KAUMO: Proper application and pedestrian and operator training are key to avoiding incidents. When proper trainingis not reinforced, pedestrians and operators are more likely to mishandle trucks or misuse designated walkways and driving lanes.Congestion due to peak busy intervals are a contributor.
How can and should training be enhanced to
help operators better understand the equip-
ment, and pedestrians become more aware of
LEGO: Training never ends. We have to remember that training is both hands-on and in the classroom, and operators and pedestrians need to understand clearly that they never complete theirtraining.
Operators need to have a dedicated safe place where they canpractice and work on their skills periodically. The more often theyare able to do that, the safer the operator will become in operatingthe equipment. Also important, and part of the ongoing conversation in the industry, is making sure that supervisors who manageforklift operators understand how that equipment works so theycan be a part of improving the safety picture as well.
If you can set up a culture where people are consistently tryingto share best practices and promote safety, that helps operators stayin the safety mindset. A positive safety culture, rather than a punishing culture, will always improve operators’ safety compliance.
Making the learning process more collaborative often createsbetter understanding for the operators. At Toyota we have a process called Yokoten that revolves around sharing the best ideaswith other people in the organization. Operators are learning moreas they do their job each day and if they are in a culture wherethey can share that knowledge, with other departments or areas,the best safety ideas and insights will get shared across the entireorganization.
Even something as simple as setting a standard that there shouldnever be a paint scratch on your equipment (and that each scratchleads to investigation) helps to reset some bad habits that can growif they are not addressed at their root cause. Just like you would investigate a scratch on your automobile and find out what caused itand how you can avoid it in the future, avoiding equipment impactalways improves safety.
Pedestrian training shouldn’t be overlooked. In any setting
Forklift operator training
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