Forklift Safety Thumnail

5 Tips On How To Improve Your Forklift Safety

Driving a forklift not only takes skill, it requires concentration and awareness. As any experienced forklift operator can tell you, running a forklift without the correct training could be incredibly dangerous. According to figures released by the Forklift Truck Association, 5 people suffer life changing injuries every working day, due to forklift accidents. To help keep your operators, staff and the public safe, we’ve put together some useful forklift safety suggestions.

Forklift Safety

Tip 1) Ensure Operators Receive Refresher Training

It may have been years since your operators had their original forklift training and received certification. Frequent updates to the rules and regulations surrounding the operation of heavy machinery, may mean that your operators could be out of touch.

By putting your operators through refresher courses (it’s recommended that this is done every four years) they can fill any gaps in their skill set and knowledge. It also ensures that they have forklift safety at the forefront of their minds.

If you’d like to know more about what training is available, why not get in touch with our experienced team? You can get in touch by calling 01933 228127, or by emailing info@askhitec.co.uk.

Tip 2) Make Sure Loads Are Tightly Secured

Awkward loads can be particularly troublesome. This is especially the case when your operators are trying to work quickly. However it’s vital to ensure that all loads are properly secured. This not only improves the control that your operators have, but it greatly reduces the risk of collapses, breakage of goods, damage to your facility and the harming of pedestrians.

Also, it’s important to check the condition of your pallets, if they’re poor, they could break under the weight of your load.

Tip 3)Frequent Inspections

Drivers should always perform safety checks before each shift use of all machines. Not only does this help spot any issues (which should be reported immediately and the machine should remain unused until fixed), but it can help prevent any dangerous accidents caused by the forklift malfunctioning. It can also prevent the need for expensive repairs at a later date.

Issues to act on include: smoke, unusual smells or noises, any leaks, broken or loose hoses/wires and problems with tyres.

Tip 4) Visibility Is Key

Not only is it important that your forklift operators can see what they’re doing, but it’s also vital that they can be seen doing it. Forklift operator awareness is integral to the job, whether it’s negotiating through narrow aisles and racking, moving around a yard, carrying a large load through a warehouse or clearing a parking area of snow.

Overhangs, items left on the floor, doorways and pedestrian walkways are all potential hazards, especially when carrying a load which restricts vision. Driving backward can be an easier method of travelling when this is the case. Having a tidy facility can help operators avoid potential dangers, as well as having clearly marked walkways.

Ensuring that your forklifts can be seen may seem obvious, but low visibility (such as early or late hours, poor weather, or crowded areas) can not only affect your operators’ judgement, but can endanger those around them. Making sure your forklifts have strong, working lights is vital. There are also additional technologies available to improve truck visibility and safety, including one which can cast light beams to show the unsafe space around a forklift.

Forklift Safety Light

Tip 5) Maintain Forklift Safety Practice

Confident forklift operators can occasionally become complacent, whether it’s driving their machine too fast to get a job done quicker, hopping onto their forklift without completing safety checks, driving with their forks too high or lifting loads too big for their machine.

To help ensure that forklift safety practice is followed, it’s important to regularly remind operators of regulation, whether that’s through weekly safety meetings, refresher training or by enforcement with repeat offenders.

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We hope this short guide has been helpful for you. If you have any questions, or would like to know more, why not get in touch with our experienced team? They’ll be able to provide you with additional helpful advice, as well as organise any training your operators may need. You can reach us at 01933 228127, or by emailing us at info@askhitec.co.uk.

If you want to keep up to date with the latest developments in the forklift industry and the biggest news in Hitec, why not subscribe to our quarterly newsletter?

Automation

Is Forklift Automation Just Around The Corner?

Chinese auto company BYD has unveiled prototype driverless electric forklifts. This exciting prospect was developed alongside Singapore based ST Engineering. With sights set on an automated forklift which could be used in most facilities and with hopes to create additional models in the future, it begs the question: could the forklift industry soon embrace automation?

Let’s take a look at the developments that could make forklift automation a reality:

Automation

Automation Technology

The race between major car manufacturers to create a lv. 4 automated vehicle (one which is fully capable of travel without human interference) has been big news in recent years. Automation has come a long way, with many new cars including a multitude of driving aids.

Full automation maybe away off yet, however there have been major jumps. Tesla has created an autopilot system which has been tested on UK roads (all be it with a human pilot, able to interfere should there be issues) whilst other manufacturers such as BMW and Lexus have begun developing their own technologies.

With so much research and investment being put into automation, there’s no doubt that soon it will impact heavy machinery.

Artificial Intelligence

The term AI gets thrown around a lot these days and it’s become integral to many IT systems, including those found in most new phones. Much like humans do, AI learns and improves as it performs tasks repeatedly. Utilised properly it could change the manner in which many industries operate.

Forklift operations could alter drastically if AI was introduced, especially if the machines involved were fitted with automated technology. It could allow forklifts to not only operate without drivers, but also to learn from impacts, mistakes and react to potential dangers without assistance or interference.

The Digital Age

Business has changed somewhat in the past decade. Now, you can find automated picking in warehouses, entire databases can be accessed from a tablet and dangerous labour intensive work can now be carried out by machines.

In many ways, the landscape is ready for the introduction of driverless heavy machinery. Forklift operations could benefit as machines don’t tire or need to take breaks, nor do they become sick, making them a somewhat cost effective alternative to a large team of operatives. Productivity could also increase as operations could continue at night without supervision.

With these clear indications that the forklift industry is ready for this kind of innovation, it’s important to assess what could prevent automated forklifts from becoming an industry standard.

Safety

As with any new development, safety is the number one concern. Whilst there have been plenty of initial tests for automated vehicles, it’s become clear there’s still a long way to go in terms of ensuring the safety of the public. If the technology fails, especially in heavy machinery, it could be disastrous.

With human operators you have the advantage of always having some to interfere should anything go wrong. Humans too could be the main issue behind the lack of safety surrounding automated forklifts, as they’re unpredictable.

An automated fleet of automated forklifts may be able to learn the correct routes but should someone walk out in front of it at last second, would it be able to come to an abrupt stop without someone using the emergency break?

A Job Too Complex?

Operating a forklift is not easy. There’s a reason that extensive training is required before certification is awarded. Immense awareness and decision making is required for every different movement of the forklift, whether it involves removing a pallet from racking, moving throughout the facility, travelling with a load or even carrying out basic checks before use.

Whilst the technology exists to provide a forklift with decision making capabilities (see AI), machines are unable to mimic the instinct and experience that operators use on a daily basis to carry out their work.

Forklift operation

High Initial Costs

Whilst the purchase of automated vehicles could make sense for some business owners in the long run, the initial costs could be enough to put many off. Although no set figure for automated trucks has been announced, it would come as no surprise if the price is too high for many operations to justify.

Not only could this issue prevent companies from embracing automation, but could also set back the manufacturers who would be producing the vehicles. If sales aren’t as high as required to cover manufacturing costs, then it could put a premature halt to production all together.

The combination of complex technology and machinery would also mean that should any repairs or replacements be required, it could cost a business a fortune to keep their trucks working.

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We hope this insight into the future of self-driving trucks has been interesting for you. You can keep up with all the developments in the forklift industry by subscribing to our quarterly newsletter.

Hitec Forklift Hyster

How To Prepare Your Forklift Operations For Winter

Winter has finally arrived and brought with it a bout of miserable weather. But as the temperatures drop, forklift operations must continue in order for businesses to thrive, especially in the lead up to Christmas.

We’ve put together this helpful guide with suggestions on how to prepare your forklift operations for the winter months. We hope you find it useful, but if you’d like any additional advice, why not get in touch with our experienced team? You can contact us by calling 01933 228127, or by emailing us at info@askhitec.co.uk.

Hyster Forklift Hitec

Protect your operators

Unfortunately, even the most determined operator, who continues through wind and rain, doesn’t have the ability to withstand extreme cold. Simple steps to ensure not only their comfort, but also their safety, include:

  • Winter ready outdoor gear, which is windproof, waterproof and highly visible
  • Protective gear which will preserve their most vulnerable parts (such as hands, feet, eyes, nose and ears) examples include insulated work gloves and water-resistant boots
  • Thermal layers such as fleeces, long johns, long sleeve vests and neck gaiters

Prepare your facility

To help ensure that you’re well equipped for the winter months, it’s important to have a store of necessary products, such as anti-freeze, spare bulbs and grit in case of poor weather or if supplies become hard to come by.

It’s also vital to reduce ice build-up in areas where your forklifts operate. If you have a salter attachment (see tip 5!) you can sort this easily, but in a pinch, gritting by hand is also an option.

Any exterior lights should be checked to ensure they’re working and strong enough to provide visibility in difficult conditions. If they don’t, it’s important to replace them whilst the weather is mild, so that your team doesn’t have to choose straws as to who goes up to replace them in the rain.

Remember to always keep walkways clear and well-marked. Not only does this keep pedestrians safe, but also aids driver awareness.

Additional training

Did you know, that according to the British Safety Council, 25% of workplace transport injuries are due to forklift truck accidents? Ensuring that your drivers are fully trained to cope with all conditions not only benefits the productivity of your business, but also the safety of everyone.

Frequent training sessions not only promote operator culture but also prepare them for seasonal issues, such as bad traction or visibility caused by wet, winter weather. It also provides them the knowledge and ability to spot potential dangers to themselves or the machinery.

If you’re unsure of what training could benefit your operators, why not get in touch with our experienced team, who will be more than happy to help. You can reach us on 01933 228127, or by emailing us at info@askhitec.co.uk.

Maintenance

Although regular maintenance and thorough inspections are part and parcel for the day to day running of many forklift operations, you might be surprised that additional checks and a mid-winter tune up can go a long way in protecting your machinery from expensive damage.

The cold weather can play havoc with your forklifts, so it’s important to ensure that your drivers perform safety checks before each shift use and report any problems straight away. Common issues that often arise include:

  • Loss of tyre pressure and reduced tyre tread
  • The jamming of engines and/or hydraulics
  • Batteries losing charge at an accelerated rate

It’s also vital that lights are kept in a clean condition, otherwise visibility may be reduced and that coolant and antifreeze levels are maintained (specialised winterised fluids can help aid performance).

Forklift attachments for snow and ice

A snowed in yard is not only unsafe, but inaccessible, severely impeding the productivity of your forklift operations. There are several different pieces of equipment that once attached to your forklift, can help deal with snow and ice control.

These include:

  • Ploughs allow you to push and remove snow
  • Scoops allow you to pick up and pile snow in a safe place so that it’s out of the way
  • Salters help improve traction for machinery and pedestrians

If you’re unsure about what forklift attachments would work best for you, there are a large variety of options available of different sizes and capabilities. Our experienced team would be more than happy to help provide advice on whatever attachment you’re considering. We can be reached by email at info@askhitec.co.uk and by phone on 01933 228127.