A forklift is a powerful truck that carries and lifts heavy loads. Like any other machinery, it has safety hazards to watch out for in the workplace. Things such as malfunctioning brakes and obstruction of the operator’s view increase the chances of accidents. Some of the most common forklift accidents are overturns, falls, and strucking.
However, you can minimize the chances of these happening with vigilance and regular inspection. Additionally, operators need appropriate training and basic knowledge of things that might cause forklift accidents. Here are forklift features that are likely to cause accidents when not in proper order.
Obstructions blocking operator’s view
While operating a forklift, blind spots are perilous. It increases the chances of the sudden impact that might cause fatalities. A forklift with a heavy load might have the operator’s view obstructed, forcing driving backward. The operator should be comfortable in the forklift with a spotter guiding him while maneuvering blindspots. Inclement weather and working in a poorly lit workplace significantly lessens an operator’s visibility. Navigating blindspots becomes very hard.
An excellent way to keep the work environment safe from accidents is to buy forklift accessories such as safety lines and cameras. Safety lights illuminate wherever the truck passes to alert pedestrians. Additionally, front and rearview cameras give the operator clear visibility to drive safely.
Operators are obliged to inspect the forklift to ensure that things such as brakes are in good shape. Malfunctioning brakes come with a risk of injury, severe damage, or fatality. The operator should check the brake system’s basic functionality: the brake pedal doesn’t have to fall and should have appropriate resistance for a safe stop. Keep in mind that forklift brakes usually last from 5,000 to 7,000 hours.
The surfaces of brake shoes and drums are in good condition and smooth. While in usage, dust and debris create ridges on the shoes. Early detection during an inspection allows smoothing out the ridges. Ignoring this makes the ridge reach the brake drums. The only solution to remediate the problem would be to replace the whole brake system when this happens.
Malfunctioning steering wheel
The steering wheel of a forklift is among the most ignored parts. It is not until the truck fails to maneuver a sharp turn or fails to respond that the wheel receives some attention. When the hydraulic system valves become loose, wear out, or get out of position, the wheel begins to malfunction.
Other potential causes of wheel problems include:
- Gears wearing out
- Level of steering fluids getting low
- Misaligning of tire
A professional mechanic is required to get the steering wheel to work correctly again. You can only trust a factory-trained mechanic to fix the issue after a proper diagnosis.
Malfunctioning mast assembly
Do you notice your forklift getting stuck at the peak while adjusting height? Perhaps the lift mechanism slows and churns while moving up and down. You can also see the mast raising or lowering awkwardly. Hydraulic fluid is the biggest culprit when it comes to mast problems on a forklift.
The low hydraulic fluid makes the forklift unable to produce appropriate power for raising the mast or lifting heavy loads. You can tell this from the way the truck moves or turns. Replenishing hydraulic fluid might fix the problem. If the issue results from a leaky hose or cylinder, correcting the source of the leak is necessary.
Hydraulic system or transmission leaks
Pressurized fluid in the hydraulic system of a forklift generates movement. A reservoir tank stores hydraulic fluid for feeding the hydraulic pump. The pump forces the fluid into a control valve through various hoses to the lift cylinders. Afterward, the pressure pushes the cylinder to move the forks of the forklift. You can tell a forklift with hydraulic fluid issues from odd sounds, overheating, and slow movement.
The hydraulic system has hoses for rotating fluid pressure. However, the hoses are prone to wear, breakdown, and cracking with time. When this happens, the hoses develop leaks that affect the operation of the hydraulic system. Other potential causes of hydraulic fluid leaks include clogged suction filters that inhibit fluid flow. Replacing the filters allows capturing particulates and impurities that might cause inconsistent flow of hydraulic fluid.
Other forklift safety hazards include:
- Poor maintenance of attachments
- Smoking near refueling or charging area
- Driving beyond the posted speed
- Driving on dirty or uneven floor
- Exceeding the recommended forklift load capacity
- Careless driving while carrying hazardous material
A forklift introduces efficiency, speed, cost-saving, and streamlining of operations. However, it can also present various safety hazards in a workplace without appropriate forklift working conditions. Getting the most of your forklift requires proper training of operators, investing in safety equipment and accessories for the trucks, and regular inspection.