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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. Improper use of forklifts and a lack of training are the major causes of these accidents, yet, with proper training and certification, most of these accidents can be avoided.
Types of Forklifts
There are seven different classes of forklifts, each one designed for a specific environment and type of load to be carried. These range from smaller forklifts for working in tight spaces to giant forklifts designed for complex outdoor projects.
Many people mistakenly believe that if they can drive a car, they can drive a forklift. This simply isn't true. Forklifts drive and operate differently and are subject to the load they are carrying. Certification is important to fully understand how forklifts operate and how they differ from one another. This certification should include both competency training and on-site, hands-on training.
Operating a forklift properly takes training and patience. It also takes hands-on experience with a variety of load sizes and types to fully understand how a forklift feels and responds. The more practice you have, the better you will become.
The most important feature of a forklift is the fulcrum. The fulcrum is what enables the forks to lift and carry and what keeps the forklift from tipping over when carrying heavy loads. The fulcrum acts like a see-saw, and will respond to the amount of weight upon it. If there is too much weight, the forklift can tip. Knowing the limitations and weight capacity of your forklift is critical to your safety.
When people hear of workplace accidents, they usually think of machinery or slipping on wet floors, yet many workplace injuries are the direct result of a forklift accident. Forklift accidents are almost always due to speeding, not paying attention, and not operating the forklift properly - all of which are entirely preventable.
Just like your car, a forklift requires maintenance. Routine maintenance is not only imperative, it is required by law. In addition to keeping your forklift clean and full of fluids, die testing should be conducted on a regular basis to help identify cracks that cannot be seen by the naked eye.