Lift Truck Safety Measures
The modern forklift was designed in the early 1920’s and has gone through many changes resulting in the machine becoming an indispensable piece of equipment. Lift Truck Safety is paramount for the lift truck operator, the pedestrians and the public. Employers must protect their employees from the hazards associated with the use of lift trucks. The employer is required to put a system in place to recognize and report hazardous situations and ways to prevent and control hazards.
Applicable Lift Truck Safety Legislation, Regulations and Standards
Canadian Standards Association
Lift truck safety training is based on the Canadian Standards Association Standard B355-15 (May 2015). The Standard lists the safety requirements and best practices to ensure operators can use the machines safely, is accredited by the government and is the basis of reasons for penalties and fines for non-compliance according to the Standard.
Occupational Health and Safety Act
Two main Sections that apply to lift trucks are Section 1(1) (Competent Person Definition) and Section 25(1) are employer duties regarding providing and maintaining equipment, materials, and protective devices in good condition.
Regulation of Industrial Establishments
Section 51 of Ontario Regulation 851 has two requirements for competency that relate to powered lift trucks. These clauses help to determine the mandatory requirements of a competent operator and inspection procedures such as the annual safety inspection.
Lift Truck Classes and Codes
- Standard Truck – Counterbalance Forklift
- Reach Truck – Narrow Aisle Trucks
- Motorized Pallet Trucks – Walkies, Walkie-Riders and Pump Trucks
- Very Narrow Aisle Trucks – Order Selectors, Swing Mast and Turret Trucks
Important Lift Truck Safety Considerations
The operator’s manual provides valuable information that can assist with developing policies and procedures for safe use including pre-use checks, lifting capacities, information about attachments that are on the machine and proper maintenance and repair methods for the machine. If the manual is not available, immediately notify your supervisor and a new manual needs to be sourced.
Centre of Gravity and Stability
The Centre of Gravity is the point where the weight would be perfectly balanced if it were to be suspended or supported from a single point. All objects have a Centre of Gravity and competent lift truck operators need to be able to identify where these points are on the items we must lift and move.
- Load – Determined by its size and shape and
- Truck – When unloaded is located under the operator’s seat and does not always remain in the same place.
- Combined Centre of Gravity – When the truck lifts the load, the centres of gravity combine to form the combined centre of gravity.
- Stability Triangle – The stability triangle is the area of the truck that is the most The centre of gravity within the stability triangle is found underneath the operator’s seat on an unloaded, immobile lift truck.
- Stability Pyramid – The Stability Pyramid peaks at the top, like the triangle at the steer axle. The higher the load is lifted and tilted either way, the less stable the load will be.
For trucks to remain stable, the Combined Centre of Gravity must remain not only in the stability triangle but also within the stability pyramid.
Pre-Use Inspections are required by law. Inspections should resemble the requirements of the manufacturer and the Standard and are to be performed by trained and competent persons. Records must be kept at the workplace for the daily inspection.
Records are to be kept for 5 years. Inspections are always broken down into two components, the visual inspection, and the operational inspection. Always perform the visual inspection before the operational inspection.
Lift trucks are dangerous pieces of equipment to use and can cause critical injuries or fatalities as well as damage to product in the workplace. This makes lift truck safety of utmost importance Some associated with the use of lift trucks include equipment, loads and workplace hazards.
Competent operators know how to keep complete control of the machine while in use. The likelihood of accidents happening increases significantly with untrained operators. Competent operators are aware of the hazards of the machine being operated and know how to protect themselves and others while operating the machine.
Personal Protective Equipment
Minimum PPE requirements for operators include:
- CSA Approved Safety Shoes
- Reflective Safety Vests
Operators of the machine are solely responsible for the safety of others and themselves. Operating the machine in a smooth, slow motion will prevent many accidents and injuries. Being aware of surroundings also helps prevent injuries and damage.
Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development Inspections
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) will visit workplaces to conduct inspections for compliance and enforcement of the requirements found in the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This includes reviewing your lift truck program to ensure safety measures and requirements are in place. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you are ready:
- Is your equipment inspected regularly and certified annually?
- Have you performed and recorded pre-operational inspections?
- Are your workplace equipment operators trained, certified, and evaluated?
- Are operators putting their training into practice and operating safely?
- Are equipment operators able to recognize, assess, and control (RAC) hazards related to the equipment?
- Are you familiar with and following the manufacturer’s guidelines for equipment in your workplace?
- Is your equipment in good working order?