The material handling industry is crucial to the success of an economy. It integrates and allows other industries to prosper, all the while adding value to the economy on its own as well. However, it is also one of the most dangerous industries in an economy because of the use of heavy machinery and heavy loads. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that there are over 100,000 forklift-related accidents that take place within the United States in one year alone.
A majority of these accidents occur because of unsafe practices, either by the business as a whole or by individual employees. Often material handling businesses tend to purchase used forklift trucks for sale, neither taking care to implement the proper precautions nor taking the time to inspect the forklift properly before purchase.
Even though hastiness and complacency in purchasing the used forklifts is a big factor in the cause of accidents, an even bigger factor is the tolerance of unsafe practices. In the race to finish projects on time and remain cost-effective in the process, material handling businesses often overlook unsafe practices that lead to accidents. That is why we shall be highlighting the unsafe practices to avoid, particularly when operating pre-owned forklifts.
Maneuvering Used Forklift through Clutter
One of the most common sites of operation for forklifts in the warehouse. Counterbalance forklifts, as well as used Moffett trucks, are often used to move loads through the warehouse. Even though some forklifts are particularly designed to navigate the narrow aisles of a warehouse and maneuver through the small spaces, yet no forklift is designed to navigate through the clutter. It is when forklift operators try to maneuver their way through a cluttered warehouse floor that accidents occur.
It is up to the fleet manager to ensure that the warehouse floor is clear when forklifts are in operation. Forklift operators can also refuse to move the forklift until space ahead is clear. Lastly, the rest of the crew must do their part in ensuring that the warehouse floor remains clear of any clutter so that forklifts can get through easily and without danger of tipping over.
Lifting Excessively Heavy Loads with Used Forklift
All forklifts come with a designated maximum load lifting capacity. The manufacturers put the load lifting capacity on the side of the forklifts so that the operator does not try to live a load that is too heavy for the forklift. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happens quite often at a lot of material handling sites across the country. New and inexperienced operators usually underestimate the weight of the load and lift it with forklifts that are not designed to support that much weight. They may also lift heavier loads because they might be in a hurry to get the job done. Older and more experienced forklift operators must supervise the new operators and ensure excessively heavy loads are not lifted by forklifts that are not designed to support the weight.
When it comes to used forklift trucks, their maximum load lifting capacity may diminish over the years. It is the responsibility of the fleet manager to clearly ask the previous owner what load the forklift can lift. Retailers such as Truck Forklifts can also facilitate fleet managers during the purchasing process and help them find out details regarding the used forklift.
Transporting People on Used Forklift
Most people do not see the harm in this unsafe practice as it does not involve any heavy loads or cluttered spaces. However, forklifts are designed specifically to carry loads with their forks at the front or the sides. As such, the weight distribution of a forklift is delicate and can be upset when people climb on to the forklift at different places. If there are too many people being transported on the forklift then the weight distribution of the forklift gets upset and it tips over.
Transporting Load on Elevated Forks
This also relates to the weight distribution of the forklift. Usually, forklifts have a counterbalance at the back end in order to offset the weight of the load at the front. The combined center of gravity of the load and the forklift must remain within the ‘Triangle of Stability’ for the forklift to remain upright. As the forks are elevated and the load is raised high above the ground, the combined center of gravity moves forward and out of the triangle of stability, thus causing the forklift to tip forward.
Driving Used Forklift in Dimly Lit Conditions
Driving forklifts in dimly lit warehouses are just asking for trouble. The rule is, if the driver cannot see what is in front of the forklift then they should not drive. While driving in a dimly lit warehouse, the forklift could run over anything left on the ground or hit a crew member. That is why operators should avoid driving used forklifts in dimly lit conditions.
These were just some of the unsafe practices that should be avoided when operating used forklifts. The fleet managers should conduct a training exercise of the operators on a regular basis in order to ensure no accidents take place.