Forklift Traffic and Loading Safety

Safety Forklift LoadingAvoid incidents with forklifts by maintaining a clear traffic plan for the forklifts and pedestrians. If at all possible, pedestrians should never have to walk in the path of the forklift nor should the forklift have to move through pedestrian traffic. Managers should look at the forklift and pedestrian traffic to see where there is interaction and how it can be minimized.

Obviously, forklifts should be prohibited completely from areas where employees congregate, such as around the time clock, the soda machine, the coffee pot, or the break room. They should also have traffic patterns that keep them away from pedestrian exits and entrances as much as possible.

Should your employees have a forklift accident, it is important that you have procedures in place to deal with it. Proper training and refresher safety briefs can go a long way toward keeping people on their toes and aware of the potential dangers of the forklifts they work on or around. You must not wait until an accident occurs to put these forklift safety precautions into practice. The best offense in any safety plan is a good defense. Empowering your employees to manage their own safety will greatly reduce the risk of incidents.

Loading Forklifts and Unloading Safety

The whole purpose of using a forklift is to help with lifting and carrying large loads. Think of the time and effort it would take to hand stack warehouses full of products. The forklift allows this work to be done quickly and relatively safely as long as all employees understand the basic principles of forklift operations.

Before moving any load, you should make sure the load is stable so that it does not slide or fall while it is transported from one spot to another. Many warehouses store and move objects of different sizes and shapes, so you should familiarize yourself with the safest ways to stack items.

  • Block – Items that are square may be stacked in a cube and secured with wires or other strapping
  • Brick – Each level of the stack should be turned 90 degrees.
  • Irregular – Items that are square may be stacked in a cube and secured with wires or other strapping.
  • Pinwheel – If a brick pattern is unstable, each quadrant is turned 90 degrees.

As you inspect the load, make sure it does not exceed the forklift capacity rating. Be sure to check the rating at the furthest extension you will use and the highest elevation. If the weight is too much, see if you are able to break it into a few smaller loads that will be safer for the forklift to handle.

The forklift should be set squarely in front of the load. Placing it unevenly will cause the load to be unbalanced and tip over. The forks should be wide apart to maintain this balance and be driven under the load completely. Once under the load, the mast should be tipped back a bit to stabilize and then lift the load to move it.

Once you have safely lifted and moved the load, it is time to place it at the new location. This spot should also have been inspected to make sure it is free of any debris and capable of holding the load. The cartons might have maximum stacking quantities or orientation instructions that you should follow.

Remember that you cannot safely stack heavy loads on top of lighter loads. If the rack you intend to put the load on is damaged in any way, it should not be used. Whatever part of the rack is broken should be repaired before anything is placed on it. Once something falls into disrepair, you cannot determine how much weight it can safely hold.

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