7 tips to help forklift operators increase warehouse safety

Habits of the safest forklift operators in Queensland

In our last article, we asked, are your forklift inspection routines putting your business at risk? With around four deaths caused by forklift accidents every year in Australia, in this article, we give you seven tips on how to operate your forklift safely in the workplace. These are the habits of the best forklift operators in Queensland.

1.    Communicate constantly

Even though as a forklift operator you’re in something of a cocoon in the cab, communication with those around you is probably one of the most important things to do. Constantly making sure that people know what you’re doing and where you’re going helps in two ways. First, they’ll be warier of your presence. Second, you’ll be warier of theirs.

2.    Always secure the load

Hard-to-handle loads are more prone to topple. Unevenly distributed loads are more likely to cause forklift instability. Never transport an unsecured load on a forklift: one item falling can lead to a domino effect, and suddenly the entire load has gone.

3.    Plan your route around the warehouse

Warehouses can be busy, complex places. Make sure you know where you are going and how to get there. Some channels may be too narrow or have dangerous obstacles. Operating a forklift can be challenging and enjoyable, but a warehouse is not a slalom course or a racetrack. Always select the easiest and safest route around a warehouse, even if it’s a little further to travel. Be careful of other warehouse users, too: you may have to wait while another process is being completed.

4.    Park up safely when your shift has finished

Always park in an authorised location, lower the fork, set controls to neutral, put the brake on, turn off the ignition, and remove the key.

5.    Inspect your forklift regularly

Your pre-shift forklift inspection is the most important one to make. Check everything from oil and water to seatbelts, electrics, and coolants. Don’t neglect the check: it could save lives.

6.    Pay special attention to battery and hydraulic fluid

Your battery needs to be fully charged, and your hydraulic levels must be maintained. A mishap with either of these could cause a breakdown or fork failure. If this happens, you could be the cause of a serious accident in the warehouse.

7.    Know the forklift tyre warning signs

Your forklift tyres are integral to the job your forklift does. They are often the most overlooked piece of forklift equipment. When you inspect your forklift, don’t forget the tyres. Here are the warning signs that your tyres need to be replaced, which are different for pneumatic and cushion tyres:

  • Wear and tear take its toll on pneumatic forklift tyres. You should inspect for cuts, grazes, and tread wear. Look at inner and outer edges and the centre of the tyre for signs of balding. If the cord is visible, the tyre needs replacing immediately.
  • On cushion tyres, you should look out for flat spots, tearing, and cracks. These issues have different causes, and if they are happening regularly then you should have a tyre expert help you to identify why. If your tyres have worn down to the 50% wear line, you should replace the tyre immediately.

Worn or poorly inflated forklift tyres are one of the main causes of poor forklift safety in the warehouse. Worn tyres make for an unstable forklift, an uncomfortable drive, and they add to fuel consumptions and maintenance cost.

To find out about our comprehensive tyre services for forklift operators in Queensland, contact Darra Tyres today.

Keeping your business and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

About the Author

Kevin has been at the forefront of the tyre industry for over 20 years. Kevin's speciality is in industrial and commercial tyres including the management and upkeep of fleets. Kevin has worked with vehicles his whole career from painting, mechanical, suspension and panel beating he has also spent time in the Australia Army as a driver. He has driven all size of vehicles throughout his career so understands the demands placed on drivers.