Improving Reach Truck Safety in 10 Simple Steps
10 rules for forklift safety
Reach trucks are a type of lifting equipment and most commonly used across logistics operations. Accidents involving handling equipment are a common place in supply chain operations but largely avoidable.
We’ve put together 10 simple reach truck safety steps to improve forklift safety and to help prevent accidents when operating reach trucks, in order to ensure the safety of operators and those around them:
1. Don’t operate a truck without the relevant qualifications
Asking an operator to operate a forklift truck that they have not been trained and authorised on is a huge risk. This should not happen under any circumstances and also applies to each individual reach truck category (e.g. operating a D2 truck with only D1 truck training).
Guidelines on how to safely operate different types of reach trucks will vary, so it’s safest to not assume that knowledge of one truck will guarantee safety when using another.
2. Identity the correct truck for the job
There are a whole host of trucks and material handling equipment for a reason. Always make sure that when a reach truck is being used it is in the right environment and setting.
The huge variety of machines available enable reach truck operators to best select the right equipment for the task at hand. It also ensures the safe operation of the job as well as benefiting productivity and capacity.
3. Don’t operate the reach truck if you are not fit to do so
Under no circumstances should an operator use a reach truck if they are under the influence of alcohol, drugs and also strong medicines which may cause drowsiness. Even being overtired can cause fatal results. As part of reach truck safety or any forklift safety rules for that matter, always ensure that operators are alert and physically ready to operate the equipment. This is why we have HSE forklift truck regulations in place.
4. Be aware before operating a forklift truck
Being aware of the working environment is a number one priority in reach truck safety in order to avoid accidents. Paying close attention to what is going on around will help minimise the risk of injury and unwanted incidents. Never use a phone or handheld device when operating a reach truck and, where required, always remember to wear glasses.
5. Know the reach truck safety signs and signals
Each site will have specific rules with regards to traffic flow, lanes, direction of travel etc. It is important for forklift operators to be familiar with these rules, signs, traffic lights, signals and speed limits when operating a reach truck. Also, an awareness of hand signals, safety lights and warning devices which may be in use when these systems are not in place. Always being informed of the relevant systems in place, supports forklift health and safety for each specific site.
6. Use the forks for their intended job only
It is incredibly dangerous to allow others to ride the reach truck or forks, they have been specifically designed for the job of lifting materials. As part of the reach truck safety rules, no one should be allowed to mount these trucks for their own safety and those around them; this includes the forks themselves, attachments or pallets. These are some common forklift truck hazards which can easily be avoided. Operators should also avoid walking or standing under raised fork arms.
7. Look out for pedestrians
When operating a reach truck don’t forget your fellow pedestrians. In workplace transport operations, they are very vulnerable and also subject to accidents. So, it is always wise for operators to be mindful of any pedestrians nearby. Even if they cannot be seen in the immediate area, still drive slowly, carefully and responsibly. Be aware of blind spots (doorways, parked vehicles, obstacles) and make a special effort to look out for pedestrians emerging from these areas.
8. Forklift safety rules - Report all incidents
Whether encountering an incident or near miss it is important to report it openly. You may think that because there has been no damage or injury it is fine to leave it, but in order to reduce risk in the future, businesses need to know about the incident. It is also important to check for damage and the overall functionality of the truck before proceeding with any work after an incident. This procedure should be carried out by someone who has been trained on how to correctly do so.
9. Forklift safety tips - Take regular breaks
Despite growing pressures in warehouse and supply chains, working for long hours in the same position is unsafe and can cause further problems. Operators are at risk of developing musculoskeletal problems or injuries due to tiredness. Make sure that regular breaks are taken away from the equipment – a simple reach truck safety tip is to move around and stretch at regular intervals to allow the body a break.
10. Make the most of Reach Truck safety guidelines available
A great resource and booklet to reference is the RTITB Reach Truck Operator’s Safety Code. Make sure to refresh operators’ knowledge of the forklift safety guidelines and have it readily available to reference if needed.
You can also have a read through our Ultimate forklift operator training handbook. This guide will give you all the information you may require for all the various types of forklift training courses you would like to take to get your forklift license.