I’m sure many of you have been there before. While browsing online, you spot a bargain. Not wanting to miss out, you take the risk and stump up the money. Lo and behold, the item arrives, slightly different to what was advertised. As the saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. This piece of advice is a very apt one in the world of forklift trucks, where getting something that’s not as advertised could be a fatal error. Put simply, forklift safety should be your number one concern.
There’s no getting around it; forklifts can be very expensive. If you’re a business owner, or a manager, part of your role is ensuring that the work gets done under budget. So if you spot a real bargain – either for hire or purchase – online, the temptation to take the risk can be great. However, it’s also paramount to ensure the safety of your employees. If an accident happens because the forklift you picked up for a pittance is dodgy, you could be liable.
So, in the first instance it’s best to make sure you’re getting your vehicles from a reputable dealer, which usually means you have to pay a bit more for them. Whoever you end up buying from, though, you need to make sure the vehicle is safe before you use it. Wherever you get your truck from, there’s always an element of risk involved. Here’s how you can take the initiative, and avoid any nasty accidents.
Do a visual check
When your new forklift arrives, you need to check it before you get started to ensure it’s safe. The first thing you should do is take a walk around the vehicle and look out for any obvious flaws. Check that all nuts and bolts are tight, and that the vehicle is generally in good shape. Make sure that the vehicle is not obviously leaking, and that the forks are not bent.
It’s fairly likely that your truck will look fine at this stage, but don’t take that to mean it’s safe. It may look great on the surface, but you need to dig deeper before you can be sure.
Do operational checks
To do an operational check, there are two main aspects you need to ensure are safe. Firstly, you need to make sure the driving mechanisms are operational; then you need to ensure that the lifting mechanisms are in good working order.
Firstly, you need to hire a qualified mechanic to take a look at the engine, and ensure it’s in good order. Next up are the brakes. This is very important, as the vehicle will be hurrying around the warehouse carrying heavy cargo once operational. It may go without saying, but if you have any doubts whatsoever over the brakes, don’t send the vehicle out for use. Make sure the steering wheel turns smoothly, and that the gear stick moves without sticking.
Secondly, you need to ensure the lifting mechanisms are in stable condition. All of the nuts and bolts should be tightly secured, and you should test the mechanism without loading it so you can ensure it’s doing what it should be. For example, it’s better to realise that the mechanism is at a forward facing angle at this point than when you’ve loaded it with cargo. Don’t skip this, it is a vital aspect of forklift safety; you can’t just do the visual check and think you’re all done.
Ensure that it’s covered by Thorough Examination
Before the truck is operated for the first time, it must pass its Thorough Examination. When picking an examiner, ensure you hire one that is CFTS approved. This will ensure that both the lifting and driving elements of the truck are examined.
If you’ve rigourously checked the vehicle, and done maintenance accordingly, it should pass its Thorough Examination with no problems. If it fails, however, you’ll have to get a mechanic on the case to fix the issues highlighted by the Thorough Examination.
Forklift safety should be consistent
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Once the forklift has passed its Thorough Examination and is ready to use, ensure that you ingrain a culture of consistent maintenance and forklift safety among those that use it.
Before each and every use, the driver should do a maintenance check to ensure that the machine is safe to use. Build in a system whereby they can report any issues and have them fixed prior to the vehicle being used. You could even train your forklift operators to fix the vehicle themselves if they spot any flaws.
Not only does this kind of system ensure that your warehouse will be a safe environment, it also means that you won’t have any nasty surprises when your truck is due for its Thorough Examination.
Hiremech is the exclusive dealer for the Caterpillar range of forklift trucks in London. Offering forklift hire and sales, it’s your one-stop-shop for your materials handling needs: http://www.hiremech.co.uk/