6 steps to safer lift truck operations

Oct 18, 2018

6 steps to safer lift truck operationsIn the blink of an eye, we can become a statistic - a lift truck "jockey" who collides with a rack, resulting in a multiple rack collapse. Or maybe, it's a supervisor who's too busy to observe risks operators are taking. These are just two common situations that can lead to something going wrong unless we take appropriate steps to recognize the hazards and implement the proper controls. Here are a few prevention-oriented questions:

  • Have we got the right equipment for our workplace? Lift trucks are costly and we expect them to last a long time. However, the demands we place on them change - greater capacity, higher reach, more speed. This can lead to taking chances. When purchasing a lift truck, consider future needs.
  • Do we have properly trained drivers? "He can drive a car so he should be able to drive the lift truck" isn't good enough. Lift truck operators require special training - both theory and practical. Drivers need to understand what makes their equipment unique and demonstrate their ability in operating it. Allow only properly trained and authorized drivers to operate lift trucks.
  • How often do we observe operators? Constructive coaching can help you increase efficiency and reduce the risk of incidents and property loss. Observe your supervisors too. Do they know what the law requires, the equipment's strengths and limitations, and how to manage a team of good operators?
  • Do we adequately control who operates our lift trucks? "We have more than one driver so we just leave the keys in the ignition." How many times have we heard or seen that? Provide only authorized drivers with keys, or install an electronic device to control who can operate your lift trucks.
  • Are pedestrians and lift trucks kept separate? Sidewalks, roadways, stop signs and traffic management are designed to make movement safer for both pedestrians and vehicles. Do we try to do the same in our workplace? Free-for-all aisles and blind spots are recipes for disaster. Consider implementing walkways, stops at intersections, and pedestrian crosswalks. Take advantage of technology to help detect vehicle and pedestrian movement. Develop and implement a pedestrian safety program.
  • Do we hold staff accountable for safe operation? When we observe a driver operating in an unsafe manner, or a pedestrian who fails to check at a blind intersection, do we correct that behaviour? Are supervisors and managers held accountable to make sure they manage their staff appropriately? Are good drivers and pedestrians recognized and rewarded?

These are just some of the factors and risks to consider in getting everyone home safe at the end of the day. For solutions, check out the following WSPS resources:

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