Buckle Up – Forklift Seabelts

Believe it or not, seatbelts are only recently mandatory safety equipment on a forklift.  While, technically, OSHA doesn’t directly mention seatbelts by name they’re firm enough about the wording that we know they’re very serious about the seatbelts.  You should be, too.

Here’s the thing: while a forklift rarely travels at a high enough speed for the driver to be in any real conventional danger there are plenty of other hazards that make a seat belt absolutely necessary. It’s not about the speed.

If a forklift is tipping over, the driver’s natural instinct would be to jump out.  That’s exactly the wrong thing to do and a seat belt can efficiently prevent that from happening. It’s critical in a tip-over situation that the operator remains within the roll cage of the forklift. Sobering statistic of the day: according to OSHA, 85 operators are killed every year in the US in forklift accidents.  Stay belted in. Stay in the cage.

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Forklift Propane Safety

More than half a million forklifts in the US operate on propane gas. That’s a lot of gas, and a lot of potentially dangerous situations if the propane is not handled properly.

Here’s what you need to know about propane:

Propane, by itself (like natural gas that we use to heat our homes) is odorless.  Propane’s distinct odor is added to the gas in the processing to make it easier to identify a leak.

The gas is stored in the tank under pressure, and is flammable when it is mixed with air, making leaks particularly dangerous. It can be ignited by open flame, and even sparks from static electricity. In addition, propane is heavier than air, meaning it doesn’t dissipate easily and can accumulate in pockets and small spaces.  This is a large reason why propane leaks can be so dangerous.

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Counterbalance vs Reach

Balance.  We’re all working to achieve it, some with more success than others.  Balance is critical to the successful, safe operation of your forklift as well.

Forklifts achieve balance in two ways.

A Counterbalance forklift is a truck that can lift and move a load without the use of outriggers to stabilize the unit. These forklifts usually have the counterbalance attached to the back of the forklift. In fact, in a battery-operated forklift, the batteries themselves act as the counterbalance, as they can weigh several thousand pounds.

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Forklift Abuse

A few entries ago, we mentioned something that started a conversation.  We stated that typically, most of the damage to a forklift is caused by (insert drum roll here) employee abuse.

That raised some eyebrows among our customers.

To be clear, usually damage to a forklift is not caused by mindful reckless conduct (although that does happen). It’s caused by employees who may not know better due to lack of training.

The internet is loaded with videos of forklifts toppling over due to an unbalanced load or traveling on an uneven surface. While the milder of these can be entertaining to look at as long as you’re not the owner of that truck, the truth is these incidents are extremely dangerous and every year employees are killed in accidents involving forklifts, so they’re no laughing matter.

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