Forklift Drivers: Stay Safe on the Job with These 3 Safety Checks

5 May 2016
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Articles

If you work in a warehouse, you face some inherent risks every day you go to work. Accidents are rare, but they do occasionally happen—and workers in warehouses can get injured. In 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5.2 work-related injuries or illnesses reported for every 100 full-time warehouse workers. If you drive a forklift at a warehouse, here are some safety checks you can perform to reduce the chances that an accident occurs while you're on the job.

Check Your Forklift's Tire Pressure

Forklifts, like any material-handling equipment with wheels, should have their tires properly inflated. If your forklift's tires are under- or over-inflated, the machine may not handle properly. Even if you don't notice a difference in the way it steers when you first start your shift, you might have a hard time controlling the forklift once you pick up a full pallet.

In addition to affecting a forklift's steering, under- or over-inflated tires can also cause a forklift to tilt slightly. One improperly inflated tire might not cause much of a change, but two improperly inflated tires on the same side of the forklift could cause enough of a tilt to unbalance a load.

To check your forklift's tire pressure, look up what it should be in the user's manual. If the manual isn't kept with the forklift, your supervisor should have a copy of it filed somewhere, or you can try looking up the information on the manufacturer's website. Once you know what the tire pressure should be, use a tire pressure gauge to check each tire before driving the forklift. If any tires are off, you can let air out with the pressure gauge or add air with an air compressor. If your warehouse doesn't have a pressure gauge and air compressor, ask your supervisor to get one of each.

Test Your Forklift's Horn

If there is a crisis, such as an impending collision, while you're driving the forklift, the machine's horn can alert everyone around. You don't want to wait until there's about to be a collision to make sure your forklift's horn works, though.

When you first turn on your forklift, give the horn a slight push to make sure it's in good, working order. If it doesn't beep, alert your supervisor so they can get the horn fixed as quickly as possible.

Make Sure Your Forklift Is Driving Smoothly

When you're transporting heavy pallets of materials and goods, you need to drive smoothly. Any jerking motions could cause your load to become unbalanced, and its inertia could make it topple over or tip the forklift.

Not only should you be careful to always drive smoothly, but you should also make sure your forklift accelerates and decelerates without jerking. To check its driving, simply turn it on and drive around for a few minutes. Make sure you go forward and backward and turn left and right before picking up any loads. All of these motions should be smooth.

If there are any sudden jerks when you're testing out your forklift's driving, make a note of the problem and ask to have the forklift fixed. If your warehouse has multiple forklifts, you may be able to use a different one while the first one you tested is being repaired. If your warehouse doesn't have any other forklifts, you'll need to wait for the repair to be made. The delay in work may be frustrating, but it's better than risking having a load topple over.

Every day you come to work, perform these three safety checks on the forklift that you'll be driving. They only take a few minutes, and they could help avoid an accident while you're driving. For further information, contact a representative from a company like Tri State Surplus Co.