Forklift trucks are versatile pieces of equipment that can be used to move heavy loads around a warehouse quickly and easily. They can be highly beneficial to businesses by enhancing productivity, but they also come with potential risks that must be considered.
Learn about the common safety guidelines for using warehouse forklift trucks that can help ensure a safe work environment for businesses.
Ensure All Forklift Operators are Trained and Certified
It is critical for the safety of personnel and warehouse operational efficiency that all forklift operators receive proper training and certification.
Forklift training should include theoretical instruction, such as safety procedures and guidelines, and practical knowledge on how to best operate heavy-duty lift trucks or pallet jacks.
In addition to initial training, regular retraining is essential. This keeps the operator updated on any changes in industry regulations or company policies and helps the operator maintain their standard of proficiency.
Regular retraining can include classroom lectures introducing new topics or refresher courses to improve existing skill sets. When it comes to practical instruction, forklift operators should engage in supervised hands-on practice with relevant equipment under professional guidance. They should also periodically undergo assessments and tests to evaluate their performance and knowledge retention.
Provide Well-Lit and Properly-Sized Access Aisles
Access aisles in indoor and outdoor areas must be appropriately lit and sized to optimize forklift use in a warehouse. Adequate lighting allows workers to move through the aisles safely and reduce potential collisions while operating electric pallet trucks.
To ensure maximum efficiency when entering racking systems and stacking pallets, you need to plan your storage system layout using the following formula to calculate the minimum aisle space necessary:
Basic right angle stacking width + load length + 12” = the minimum forklift aisle width
The basic right angle stacking width measurement refers to the minimum amount of space a forklift needs to turn and enter a pallet area.
When calculating the appropriate load length for your forklift, ensure that you are aware of the rated capacity of your forklift at the specific load center. A good starting point is a standard pallet size, which is typically 48” long.
To further ensure safe operation and enough space for the forklift’s turn radius, it is recommended that an additional 12” of clearance be included in the measurements.
Use Safety Guard Devices
Safety guard devices can be applied to industrial shelving and racking systems to prevent forklift impacts from damage. Electric forklift collisions can cause dents or scratches that can reduce the system’s structural integrity or leave rack components vulnerable to corrosion.
A warehouse guardrail safety system provides a cost-effective way to prevent forklift collisions from damaging racking, machinery, and inventory and keep workers safe in mezzanine and open office areas.
The warehouse safety rail system from SRS-i is crafted from heavy-duty steel and is covered in a high-visibility yellow powder coating. Each component has been tested for impact resistance up to 10,000 lbs. at 4 mph.
All Drivers and Warehouse Personnel Require PPE
All workers should wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items such as hard hats, ear and eye protection, and hi-vis jackets at all times. This reduces the potential risks associated with working close to a forklift, order picker, or pump truck.
High-visibility clothing is recommended in the warehouse environment as it helps to increase a driver’s visibility to other workers and forklift operators. This is especially important when working in low-light areas.
Adding a forklift warning light to forklift trucks can also be helpful while traveling narrow aisles in low-light areas. The LED DC12-80V, 18W blue safety spotlight from SRS-i, is a forklift warning light that provides maximum visibility and safety. With 800 lumens of brightness generated from two LED lights, it can easily be mounted on the rear side of any forklift.
Post Forklift Speed Limits
OSHA doesn’t have any defined speed limit. Each facility generally determines forklift speed limits; however, the commonly accepted speed limit for a forklift in a warehouse setting is under 8 mph and 3 mph in areas with high pedestrian traffic levels. Ensure all warehouse speed limits are clearly signposted around the facility.
Although they do not mandate a specific speed limit, OSHA still has a set of standards to adhere to for forklifts traveling in warehouses. Section 1910.178(n) of the Materials Handling and Storage guidelines states that forklift operators should also maintain a safe distance of approximately three truck lengths between themselves and the forklift ahead of them and must ensure that their truck is under control at all times for maximum safety precautions.
Implement Safe Loading and Unloading Procedures
Ensure all operators are trained on the proper way to load a pallet onto a forklift and how to safely lower it back down off the forks. Follow these procedures for every load to prevent accidents and injuries.
Additionally, all operators should know the weight limits of the different types of forklifts they are operating, like counterbalance forklifts or reach trucks. This can help prevent potential overload issues that could lead to an accident.
SRS-i offers an 8” wide forklift jack designed for forklift trucks. It features a hydraulic pump that provides a maximum capacity of up to 8,800 lbs. and an overload valve that ensures safety.
Support Workplace Safety with SRS-i
At SRS-i, we understand the importance of workplace safety and are committed to helping create a secure warehouse environment. Our selection of reliable forklift jacks, scales, and other safety products can help ensure that your workplace is safe and secure for workers. Talk to us today at (800) 589-7225 about how we can help you create a safer warehouse environment.