Forklift Safety and Efficiency Tips

Forklifts are heavy, powerful, but unstable vehicles that according to WorkSafe Victoria, injure an average of about 250 people annually. A good warehouse or operations manager tries to increase safety and minimise accidents while increasing productivity and efficiency.

So how can you make your forklifts safer and more efficient?

Train forklift operators

Training is essential. Teach operators to wear seatbelts and train them to use the forklifts in a safe and efficient way. Incorporate instructions such as how to handle a tipping forklift – to lean away from the point of impact if tipping. Some more safe driving tips include:

  1. Ensure operators wear seatbelts.
  2. Do not start the forklift engine until you are ready to move. This improves fuel consumption and increases performance. Modern engines warm fastest as they are driven.
  3. Maintain a steady, consistent speed, just below the designated speed limit.
  4. Avoid excessive acceleration and braking to reduce fuel and maintenance costs as well as wear.
  5. Decelerate smoothly and never slam on the brakes. Release the accelerator and gently apply the brakes until you reach your destination.
  6. Discourage idling, which wastes fuel. Switch off the engine if waiting for more than one minute.


Use signs to establish safe zones

Many forklift accidents involve pedestrians. Signs can improve forklift lifespans by reducing potential impacts. Sitecraft provides signs, floor graphics, guardrails, barriers and bollards to help separate vehicle zones from clearly marked walkways. If you cannot physically separate vehicles pedestrians, use other options, such as vision panels in doors, mirrors for pedestrians and vehicles. Barriers not only stop traffic, they mark exits and entrances for pedestrians. Consider using an integrated traffic light system to improve traffic flow.

Keep vehicle routes clear

Try to make your vehicle lanes one-way only if possible, with a separate entries and exits. Use a bitumen or concrete surface to improve tyre grip and reduce slipperiness. Keep routes clear of slippery or damaging hazards such as oil or potholes as hazards affect stopping distances and may damage vehicles. Try to avoid steep gradients, which make forklifts unstable. Lane width is very important in a warehouse to reduce the risk of collisions and accidents. Lanes need to be slightly bigger than the widest load of your biggest vehicle.

Look after your forklifts

Forklifts can become dangerous for the operator and anyone in their vicinity if used beyond their estimated useful life. Estimates vary between different machines based on the type of forklift, the amount of hours they are used, how much maintenance they get, the type of tasks performed and the general workplace environment. A rigid maintenance program can improve that life.

Use a fleet management system

A fleet management system helps reduce fleet costs, optimise forklift and operator productivity, increase safety and comply with workplace regulations. A system can track each forklift, the distance travelled, lifting and battery use. It can calculate and alert you to inspect forklifts based on these factors and on allocated timeframes. You can track forklift operator productivity and a range of other functions to improve safety, productivity and efficiency.