The average forklift truck environment is highly pressurised and fast paced with deadlines to meet and schedules to keep. Is it possible to work fast and stay safe or does safety mean less productivity?
Here are 5 reasons why slow and steady will always win the race:
1. Truck stability: It’s a well-known fact that counterbalance forklift trucks travelling at excessive speed are at an increased risk of rolling over, but a common misconception is that this is not the case when the truck is empty. In fact, a truck carrying a load that is correctly heeled and in the correct travel position is more stable than an unladen truck, due to the lower centre of gravity.
2. Accuracy: An operator who takes the time to correctly position the FLT truck for a turn or a pallet position is less likely to make lots of manoeuvring corrections. Each time the truck is manoeuvred or the hydraulics are adjusted, wear and tear occurs and power/fuel is used. Repositioning and adjusting also takes up more valuable time. Taking a moment to get it right first time could make all the difference.
3. Damage: Raising a heavy load at high speed increases strain on the lifting components that allow the lift truck to do its job. Sudden, jerky stopping of the lifting mechanism also places additional strain on the equipment, but it can also affect the stability and possibly the integrity of the load. Smooth, controlled use of the hydraulics will limit the strain and make the process safer and more accurate.
4. General environment safety: It’s no secret that travelling at high speed limits the time that drivers have to react and increases the chances of collisions with other trucks, pedestrians and racking systems. And then there’s the effect that harsh braking has on the vehicle, the load, the floor surface, etc. Workplace speed restrictions should take into account a number of factors, including: the lift truck’s limitations, the types of load carried, the floor conditions, other machinery and pedestrians working in the area.
5. Rushing leads to short cuts: There’s no doubt that experienced operators will work more quickly than less experienced operators. And there’s nothing wrong with that when correct working practices are followed. But when quick working is a product of corner cutting that’s when speed becomes reckless. Turning with loads raised, operating the hydraulics while travelling, not sounding the horn at doorways, skipping pre-use inspections because there just isn’t time, these are all examples of actions taken by operators who are rushing and placing their own safety and the safety of others at risk, not to mention the integrity of the equipment, the load and fittings such as racking.
It’s a complicated issue with lots of factors to take into account, but well trained operators working alongside knowledgeable managers and supervisors who understand the environment, the equipment and operating standards are the best defence against bad working practices that often result in loss of productivity, injuries and sadly, death.