Avoid Abrupt Stops

Abruptly stopping a forklift can cause it to slide, tip over, or spill the load. When a forklift tips over it is a danger to the operator and anyone nearby. Spilling a load can cause injuries, damage the cargo and other equipment, or damage infrastructure.

Effect of Sudden Stops on Forklift Balance

Forklifts weigh thousands of pounds. When the breaks are suddenly applied the wheels may stop turning but the forklift’s momentum will shift its center of gravity forward, outside the stability triangle making the forklift unstable.

This is especially risky when the forklift is loaded because its center of gravity is closer to the front. Abrupt stops are a bigger problem at high speeds since momentum increases with speed.

How to Avoid Abrupt Stops

Measures you can take to prevent sudden stops by forklift operators include:

  • Forklift operator training: Forklift operators should be trained to bring the machines to a smooth stop. They should also be trained to accurately judge braking distances at different speeds, loading conditions, floor conditions, etc.
  • Enforce speed limits: When forklifts are moving at reasonable speeds, operators are less likely to have to stop abruptly since they’ll have better situational awareness. The effect of an abrupt stop is also less significant at lower speeds.
  • Separate pedestrian and forklift traffic: Operators are likely to stop abruptly because of pedestrians. Separating pedestrian and forklift traffic limits encounters between the two.
  • Maintenance: Forklifts that brake erratically can lead to abrupt stops. Ensure the braking system in the forklift is well maintained so operators can use them reliably.
  • Situational awareness: Drivers should be cautious and aware of their surroundings at all times. The company or warehouse should also put up signs that warn forklift operators of risks ahead or in their immediate vicinity.

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