Forklift safety tips: A licence is not enough

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  • Plant & Equipment

Not everyone who holds a high risk work licence is trained and competent to perform all types of forklift related work, writes the team at MLA Holdings.

Forklift safety tips: A licence is not enough
Forklift operators should receive a variety of specialised training.

Operators must hold a high-risk-work licence in order to operate most types of forklifts, but the competence gained from the practical training involved is basic. In most cases, extra in-house, site and machine specific training is required.

The initial training is likely completed on a standard forklift with a standard mast that has no attachments and is lifting very light loads. Operators should receive training in the operation of the forklifts and attachments that they are using, plus training on the risks and control measures relevant to their specific work environment.

Safe Work Australia suggests that this training should be provided by a competent person and should include:

  • Particular information on the industrial lift truck, such as: position, function and operating sequence of controls, relevant design features and centre of gravity, how to estimate the load centre of the item to be lifted, and the machine’s capacity, stability and limitations.
  • Attachments and components which can be used. (When attachments are fitted, the centre of gravity and lifting capacity will almost certainly change).
  • Safety features, such as guarding, emergency stop controls and warning devices.
  • Safe work practices that apply to the industrial lift truck and the relevant work areas, including the safety of pedestrians.
  • Operating conditions in all work areas including traffic rules, rights of way, and clearances from overhead electric lines.
  • Procedures for reporting any fault, unsafe practice, damage to the industrial lift truck, accidents or near misses.
  • Inspection, maintenance and repair responsibilities.
  • Emergency procedures.

Assumption that a licenced operator is competent at all forklift related work can lead to avoidable incidents where safety is compromised. Managers and supervisors must provide site and equipment specific training to maintain and enhance operators' skills. Regular refresher training is also recommended.


Forklift approach warning lights

Separating forklifts and pedestrians has long been a problem for workplace managers and supervisors. This task becomes more difficult when forklifts cannot be seen or heard — it is particularly hard to know when electric forklifts are approaching in a warehouse.

Whenever there is any chance that a forklift and a pedestrian will cross paths, safety precautions must be taken to prevent accidents.

A forklift approach warning light, more commonly known as a blue safety light system, ensures greater safety in warehouse aisles, blind spots and confusing crossing points.

The lights can be mounted to both the front and back of the forklift. A bright, usually blue but sometimes red, light is projected onto the floor, several metres ahead of the forklift in the direction of travel, and warns pedestrians and other operators that a forklift is approaching.

The light moves only when the forklift does, thus pedestrians are aware when the forklift is stationary or on the move.

Safe Work Australia suggests that the use of visual warning systems is an important factor to consider for your traffic management plan. A forklift approach warning light provides many benefits, including early warning of an approaching forklift and improved safety in aisles, blind spots and crossing points.

MLA's core business is the sale, hire and service support of material handling equipment, from the largest container handlers and reach stackers, to nearly every type and size of industrial forklift and warehousing equipment. MLA is the exclusive Australian distributor of two complementary brands — Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks and SANY Heavy Equipment — and is regarded as a leader in a competitive market thanks to a strong focus on customer needs, and ongoing commitment to delivering quality, cost-effective material handling solutions.

Click here to find forklifts for sale by MLA Holdings.


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