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While the forklift is one of the most important tools in many workplaces, it is also the cause of many accidents and injuries. Forklift Operator Training is often overlooked or addressed quickly, but it is imperative to your safety. An in-depth, hands-on training should be an integral part of forklift operations, along with several days of practice before any employee should be allowed to operate this machine in their workplace tasks.
Codes of Practice
Similar to driving a car, when you operate a forklift, you need to be diligent and aware at all times. You must know how to operate the forklift safely, both while it is empty and while using it to carry small and large loads. Handling hazardous materials with a forklift requires extra caution and care.
Counterbalanced & Stability
The goal of any forklift is to make jobs more efficient and increase production. Every load you carry will have a balance point and a special requirement to be sure the load and forklift don't topple over and cause an accident. To move loads safely, you must understand the stability triangle and how to steer and maneuver the forklift while carrying heavy materials.
Before operating any forklift, you must inspect it. This inspection needs to include a close look at all the parts of the forklift, including the mechanics of the moving parts, the batteries and cables, and the physical body of the forklift itself. If any part of the forklift looks or behaves wrong, tag out the machine until a further inspection can be conducted.
Most forklifts are powered either by gasoline or diesel, and sometimes by a battery pack. If you are refueling with a liquid fuel, you must do so outdoors in a well ventilated area. Batteries will require a specialized charging area which also needs to be well ventilated as they give off hydrogen gas. You should never smoke while refueling, as both liquid fuel and hydrogen gas are flammable.
Attachments & Platforms
Anytime you add an attachment to a forklift, you will affect the way it moves. The balance will be different, the way it turns will be different, and you need to be prepared for these changes. When you attach a platform to a forklift, you must never stand on it or let yourself be transported on it. All attachments and platforms must be secured properly using two independent methods of attachment.