Fork Truck Safety Is Not Working 

February 19, 2016 0 Comments Fork Truck Free Info 5328 Views

Last year the top 20 manufacturers worldwide posted sales of $30.4 billion with 944,405 machines sold and the U.S. forklift market was nearly $33 billion according to Josh Bond in Modern Materials Handling. Yet the critical characteristic of the forklift is its instability. The forklift and load must be considered a unit with a continually varying center of gravity with every movement of the load. A forklift must never negotiate a turn at speed with a raised load, where centrifugal and gravitational forces may combine to cause a disastrous tip-over accident. The forklifts are designed with a load limit for the forks which is decreased with fork elevation and undercutting of the load.

Forklift safety is subject to a variety of standards worldwide. The most important standard is the ANSI B56—of which stewardship has now been passed from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to the Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation after multi-year negotiations. ITSDF is a non-profit organization whose only purpose is the promulgation and modernization of the B56 standard. Other forklift safety standards have been implemented in the United States by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

A loading plate for loading reference is usually located on the forklift. A forklift should not be used as a personnel lift without the fitting of specific safety equipment, such as a “cherry picker” or “cage.” While forklifts have been critical in warehouses and distribution centers, that is about to change.

In the case of Drive-In/Drive-Thru Racking, a forklift needs to travel inside a storage bay that is multiple pallet positions deep to place or retrieve a pallet. Often, forklift drivers are guided into the bay through guide rails on the floor and the pallet is placed on cantilevered arms or rails. These maneuvers require well-trained operators. Since every pallet requires the truck to enter the storage structure, damage is more common than with other types of storage. In designing a drive-in system, dimensions of the fork truck, including overall width and mast width, must be carefully considered.

Forklift attachment manufacturers offer on-line calculators to estimate the safe lifting capacity when using a particular attachment. However, only the forklift truck manufacturer can give accurate lifting capacities. Before installing any attachment the forklift must be re-rated and have a new factory authorized specification plate, to replace the original plate, installed showing the new rating for the lift. Often this does not happen.

In many countries forklift truck operators must be trained and certified to operate forklift trucks. Certification may be required for each individual class of lift that an operator would use. In the U.S., workplace forklift training is governed federally by OSHA.  OSHA updated the 29 CFR 1910.178 regulations governing “Powered Industrial Trucks.” (OSHA used to include forklifts among other types of industrial vehicles.)

A major component of these regulations deals with forklift operator training. The standard requires employers to develop and implement a training program based on the general principles of safe truck operation, the types of vehicle(s) being used in the workplace, the hazards of the workplace created by the use of the vehicle(s), and the general safety requirements of the OSHA standard. OSHA believes that trained operators must know how to do the job properly and do it safely as demonstrated by workplace evaluation. Formal (lecture, video, etc.) and practical (demonstration and practical exercises) training must be provided. Employers must also certify that each operator has received the training and evaluate each operator at least once every three years.

Prior to operating the truck in the workplace, the employer must evaluate the operator’s performance and determine the operator to be competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely. Refresher training is needed whenever an operator demonstrates a deficiency in the safe operation of the truck.

Bottom-line: These compliance requirements are not met and thousands of fork truck drivers in the United States die every year.

Automated forklift trucks: The answer to the Fork Truck Free Environment

In order to decrease work wages, reduce operational cost and improve productivity, vision-guided vehicles have been developed. Automated forklifts (also called forked automated guided vehicles (AGVs)) are the first step in the increasing fork truck free (FTF) environment.


Topper Industrial

Posted by Jillian Burrow, Marketing Manager for Topper Industrial – Material Handling Solutions

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