While pallet jacks might not seem as dangerous as a forklift, both of these machines have their own set of safety hazards. The required maintenance of these machines also carry a risk. In addition to all of that, the possible hazards you might encounter when dealing with a load of products requires even more safety precautions. The first step towards avoiding these problems is adequate training for the operator. In the end, however, the only true precaution is a collaborative effort between the operator, company, and everyone who works in and around the equipment.
Concerns With Forklift Batteries
The batteries require a lot of the same maintenance as other vehicle batteries. The amount of use these batteries receive, however, means this maintenance, including replacement, removal, and recharging, occurs more often. The dangerous acids and other ingredients they contain means handling them with the utmost of care at all times. Ventilation is needed to prevent the inhalation of dangerous fumes and protective clothing is needed to protect against contact. This could be a special system installed into the building to remove the fumes and pump in fresh air, or it could be opening large garage doors. Other items to have on hand include a well-stocked first aid kit, an emergency shower, and eyewash station. Be sure they are easily accessible as well.
Equipment In Ill-Repair
Before each shift, the operator should inspect the pallet jacks or forklift very carefully to ensure everything is in good repair and looked after. Breakdowns dealing with important systems such as the hydraulics, steering, or breaks could cause very serious accidents quickly. Tires are another component that could cause problems. If they are worn unevenly or have flat spots, the machine will not carry the load evenly, increasing the possibility of having the load tip or fall.
Provide everyone who works with any of these machines with a comprehensive checklist that outlines a full inspection. The operator should follow this before each shift and stop using it as soon as he or she notices something out of the ordinary. It should stay parked until it is fully operational.
Increase Risk Of Collision
Pallet jacks run a constant risk of running into things and running over the feet of the operator or a passerby. A forklift also has these same issues. With the movement of large loads and basic inattention to their surroundings, injury and death are a very real hazard. Adding systems such as backup tweeters, lights, and horns can help warn others of the machine's movements. It also helps to eliminate pedestrian traffic in areas where moving equipment operates. Lastly, operators should move loads while driving in reverse to increase their visibility.
Loads themselves are not as dangerous as a load elevated to a particular height. Loading the pallet correctly is half the battle. It is important to educate others about how to stack the products and check them for stability. The stability should also be checked and the load should be wrapped with plastic before using the forklift to raise the load. Caution is also needed with pallet jacks since they can jerk the load. It also helps keep the load from falling by ensuring that the flooring is maintained. Uneven flooring and surface flaws should be repaired as soon as possible. Finally, ensure equipment operators are able to distinguish the difference between loads that are stackable and those that are not.
These safety concerns are just a few of the issues that face businesses requiring the use of pallet jacks or a forklift. Education, careful decisions, and the ability to identify tragedies before they occur are the only way to prevent accidents in the workplace.
Christine O'Kelly writes for RHI Lifts, a leading provider of pallet jacks. Chicago customers and those throughout the country have access to the Illinois forklift dealer's full line of storage and handling equipment.