Overview of Forklifts
Counterbalance Forklifts are the most commonly used, and generally, the first type of forklift that come to mind. As you’d expect, these forklifts are designed to have a weight at the back of the truck to offset and balance the heavy loads that the forks at the front will be carrying.
While most would think of forklifts only having 4 wheels, there are 3 wheel counterbalance forklifts available. It’s the same concept as a regular counterbalance fork (weight at the back to offset the heavy loads), however with one less wheel. The third wheel is situated in the centre at the back of the truck. Having this one wheel in the back greatly increases maneuverability. 3 Wheel counterbalance trucks are usually preferred where space is limited. Besides the ability to perform tight turning circles, a 3 wheel counterbalance has enhanced manoeuvrability that the single drive wheel in the back offers, which a regular counterbalance fork cannot provide.
Unlike a counterbalance forklift, a reach truck forklift will require some space between the racking and the truck. This is because reach trucks have stabilising legs that require the forklifts carriage to reach past the legs to access pallets. Reach trucks are ideally suited for warehouse operations, offering greater lift height whist maintaining maneuverability.
When lift height is not required, hand pallet trucks can be used to move palletised loads. These trucks are very easy to use, slide the forks into the pallet and pump the handle to raise the forks off the ground. The load can now be moved via the handle.
Safety and Forklifts
There are many potential risks when working with forklifts, they have caused more deaths and injuries within the workplace than any other piece of equipment. With one in three forklift related injuries occurring when the operator gets on or off the truck and more than half of all forklift accidents in the last 10 years having involved pedestrians, safety is paramount when working with forklifts.
There are numerous things that can be done to keep safe while working with or near forklifts. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Ensuring that there are clearly defined and visible areas in the factory or warehouse for forklift use as well as areas strictly for pedestrian use only. This will help to avoid pedestrians becoming involved in a forklift accident as they are completely separated with no chance of physical contact with each other.
- While forklifts, even in a stationary position can lead to a workplace incident, reducing the speed limit around the workplace can assist in reducing the frequency and severity of potential accidents.
- Ensure seat belts are fitted and worn by operators when using the forklift.
- Install or purchase forklifts with devices; that do not start unless the operator is wearing the seatbelt, limit the speed at which the forklift can be driven, offer additional safety features like handles and grips to safely mount and dismount the forklift etc.
- Replace incentives that promote drivers operating the forklift at higher speeds with incentives that reward the safe use and operation of forklifts.
Every year forklift related incidents result in Australian’s being seriously injured, and in some cases killed, at work. When you know the risks, why risk your safety and the safety of everyone in the workplace?