Knowing the potential risks of operating lift trucks can protect employees, equipment, and supplies. Learn about five of the most common electric forklift safety hazards.
1. Securing and Moving Loads
Operators must know the weight limits of their lift trucks and secure loads correctly. Loads that are too heavy or off-center can cause overturns, drops, and other accidents. The lift truck’s nameplate will state the maximum load weight.
Stack or tie uneven or loose loads to stabilize and center them. Employer-provided forklift manuals explain how to safely lift and lower loads.
2. Using Attachments
Attachments increase the number of ways you can use a forklift, but they can also create operational safety hazards. Attachments change the lift truck’s capacity, operating clearance, and center of gravity. Operators must understand the safety standards associated with every component they use.
Poorly maintained attachments can create additional problems. Just as operators inspect the lift truck overall, they should also check attachments to ensure they are in good shape before use.
3. Splashing Sulfuric Acid
Lead-acid batteries contain sulfuric acid, which can cause severe burns. Understanding how to work with the battery and wearing the right personal protective equipment can prevent injury.
Your facility’s emergency procedures should explain what to do following an acid splash. For example, if acid splashes into your eyes, remove your safety glasses and flush your eyes with clean water at the eyewash station for 15 minutes. However, you might need to take additional measures, so be sure you are familiar with every step of the procedure.
4. Ignoring Charging Procedures
Some common electric forklift safety hazards workers encounter when charging the battery include the battery’s immense weight, sulfuric acid, hydrogen fumes, and electric shock. Businesses must create safe battery charging areas with protective measures and warning signs.
Employees must know how to use equipment to remove heavy lead-acid batteries safely. Workers should charge the battery in the designated battery charging area using techniques learned in operator training.
5. Not Following Proper Maintenance
Finally, proper forklift battery maintenance protects employees and equipment. Battery failure can lead to mechanical breakdowns and cause accidents.
Your facility should use a battery maintenance program that outlines specific care. For example, avoid discharging batteries beyond the manufacturer’s recommendation. When batteries become damaged or complete their life cycle, recycle or dispose of them.
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