“When the truck arrives, the equipment operator puts a glad-hand lock on the air hose which makes it difficult for a truck to pull away in error. The operator also places orange cones out in front of the truck to prevent the driver from accidentally pulling away while the operator is loading the trailer. This policy greatly reduces the risks and has been very effective for us,” she says.
Brock also endorses what she calls a three-point hold when getting into or out of a forklift. “This means you have two hands and one foot—or two feet and one hand—always attached to that forklift at all times until you have both of your feet safely on the ground,” she says.
Another area of focus is training forklift operators what to do in the event of a tip-over or off-dock accident. Experts suggest that operators running sit-down counterbalanced trucks stay with their truck if there is an off-dock incident. Operators should always wear seat-belts with both hands on the steering wheel as they ride the fall. If they try to jump off, they are at risk of having an 8,000-pound truck fall on top of them. Operators using a stand-up truck are advised to step off the back of the truck in the event of an accident.
Speeding on a forklift is not tolerated in the warehouse. “We train our operators to understand the relationship between the speed and stopping distance of their lift trucks,” reports Brewer. “For instance, if you are driving around blind spots or in congested areas, halving your speed will not only reduce your stopping distance by 75 percent, but it will also reduce the energy of an impact. If you double your speed, your stopping distance will increase by four times. So speed has a dramatic effect on your ability to stop your truck.”
What about maintaining safety practices in refrigerated and frozen environments?
“The biggest thing you could do in these icy environments is to slow way down on your industrial equipment,” reports Brewer. “Some companies use siped tires to improve wet floor traction. They have fine razor-thin slits that help squeegee away the water, allowing it to escape so you can get better traction. In freezers, companies use tires made of a soft polyurethane compound that allows tires to compress against the floor, giving you more surface area on an icy floor.”
Although many companies use incentives to motivate their employees to work safely, industry experts note it’s not about the money. “Drivers like to be valued and recognized for their safety endeavors,” notes Chandler at ATA. “We have consistently shown that although money can be recognition of worth, it hasn’t been shown to have a dramatic impact on safety—which is really all about having the proper attitude toward your work and about recognition among your peers.”