Working environments which require the use of forklifts, such as in warehouses, mining sites or construction areas, are highly hazardous and prone to accidents of many kinds. People working in these environments are encouraged consistently to be vigilant and to put their own safety above all else. Not only are the worker’s welfare affected, but the harsh penalties imposed by the Ministry of Manpower will affect the business’ reputation as well, should safety be neglected in the workplace. Provided below are some safety tips, given in a checklist format, for forklift operators to observe on a daily basis, to protect themselves and their colleagues as well.
Before Operating The Forklift
- Licensed Operators for Operation of Forklift
Only workers that have been certified by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) with a Statement of Attainment (SOA) can operate a forklift in Singapore. This proves that they have completed the WSQ “Operate Forklift” course in Singapore, which reinforces their competencies in forklift operation.
- Wearing the Appropriate Clothing for the Job
The forklift operators must be appropriately dressed for their job. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as hi-visibility jackets, hard-hats and safety shoes should be worn throughout operation.
Additionally, your clothes must be tight fitting, to ensure the clothing does not get caught on the forklift controls.
- Avoid Operating a Forklift with Wet and Greasy Hands
Having wet and greasy hands or shoes can cause accidents when your hands slip on the forklift controls, or when you slip and fall.
- Equipment should be Thoroughly Inspected before use
With regards to inspecting the forklift before use, any anomalies observed should be reflected to the supervisor. Do not operate the forklift if anything seems strange, or requires further repair and maintenance. Listed below are some areas you should look out for:
- Warning Devices
- Starting up the Forklift
When starting up the forklift and entering the forklift, it is important to ensure that:
- Use the steps and hand-grips securely for entering the forklift
- Adjust the seating position to a comfortable level
- All controls are within comfortable reach
- Seat belt fastened before use
During Forklift Operation
- Be Vigilant and Observant
Always look around and keep a sharp eye out for obstacles and warning signs. Follow work site rules and do not venture off from forklift roadways.
- Maintain a Low Speed during Forklift Operation
During travelling, always remember to keep a low speed so that you can react in time to hazards. When turning, reduce your speed as well to avoid overturning the entire forklift. Do not make any abrupt movements with the forklift, especially with any parcel on board.
- Taking Note of Hazards
Take note of these hazards and proceed to report to management, remove if possible or exercise caution:
- Entrances and Exits
- Pedestrian Walkways
Keeping a sharp eye out for these protects yourself, your colleagues as well as the packages you are transporting.
- Maintaining a Minimum Safety Distance between Forklifts
Similar to driving on the road, it is important to keep a minimum safety distance in between forklifts to allow a safe distance for braking without collision.
- Balance and Stability
Always check for signs that the load or the forklift is not stable. Some tips for greater stability are as follows:
- Keep an eye out for overhead obstacles
- Do not travel or turn with forks raised high above the floor
- Travel with the load tilted back and forks low to optimize forklift stability
Ensuring that your load is stable also assures your safety against falling objects and destabilizing forklifts.
- Clear Field of Vision
When operating a forklift, no object or load should be blocking your view as a forklift operator. An obstructed view is a recipe for disaster, and it is important not to leave anything to chance. Always remember:
- Carry a load low to the floor for greater visibility
- Do not drive forward if the load obstructs your view. Operate in reverse instead
- When reversing, secure your load by allowing the forks to tilt back. When in need, request for a colleague to help out as a second viewpoint. This helps prevent making erroneous decisions which could compromise safety, such as during stacking
- Do Not Misuse Forklifts
Do not use forklift forks to transport people. They are strictly for loads only. Use an attached cage or platform if really necessary.
- Staying Away from the Mast during operation
It is of utmost importance for all workers to keep clear of the mast during forklift operation. Do not allow any person to be under the forks or lifting mechanism. Any mishap could cause serious injury.
- Driving on Ramps
Always drive forward when moving up ramps and reverse when moving down ramps. This is to balance out the forces of the loads while moving in that specific direction. Do not load or unload packages while on ramps, as it is highly unsafe.
- Tips on Handling Loads
When working with loads using forklifts, 3 main points must be noted throughout the operation.
Firstly, the load must be secure. Make sure that the loads are stacked and positioned appropriately between the 2 forks. Use securing materials such as ropes or binders if required for improved safety.
Secondly, the load must not be too heavy. Do not overload the forklift truck and do not add counterbalances, as wrong estimations may cause the forklift to tip over. Familiarize yourself with the loading capacities of the forklift.
Lastly, the load should be evenly distributed amongst both the forks. Do not lift the load with 1 fork only, and do not used damaged pallets to support the load.
After Forklift Operation
During refuelling, always refuel only at designated locations for doing so. Remember to switch off the engine before refuelling.
- After Forklift Operation
When your shift ends, always remember to park your forklift in the designated parking spot. Fully lower the forks, apply the brakes, and remember to remove the key after powering off the forklift.
No matter whether you are a professional or an amateur, safety while operating the forklifts should be your top priority. Take note of this pointers as much as you can and you will be on your way to a safer and better working environment.