According to Australian Forklift Training , carrying loads properly is an important yet overlooked part of safe forklift driving. There are several rules that are broken by forklift operators.
For instance, forklift operators carry short pallets sitting on the end of the forks, drive and reach forklifts around with the mast extended forward and carry uneven loads with heavy end away from the back of the fork arms.
Following are the correct procedures for forklift operators for handling a load:
- Ensure that the load is within the lifting capacity of the forklift. (forklift operators can do this by checking the load weights through the use of paperwork, calculation, or asking the supervisor and ensuring that it is within the maximum lifting capacity marked on the forklifts data plate).
- If the load is heavy or close to the forklifts maximum lifting capacity, then it should be broken down into two loads if possible or lifted with a larger forklift.
- Only stable or safely arranged loads should be handled.
- If the load is unevenly stacked with one end heavier than the other, then the heavier side must always be against the back or heel of the forks arms.
- Ensure that the spread of the forks are suitable for the width of the load handled.
- Insert the forks under the load with care being taken that items beyond the load are not disturbed by the fork tips.
- The forks should then be raised sufficiently to engage the load.
- The fork arms should be raised until the load is clear off the stack and where tilt is provided the fork arms should be tilted backwards to stabilise the load, or, in the case of a reach truck, the fork arms should be retracted before moving.
- Have a clear look over both shoulders before carefully reversing backwards, ensuring that the load clears the racking and other pallets and loads on both sides along with any obstructions on the top.
- As soon as the load is clear off the rack or stack, it should be lowered below axle height or as low as possible.
- All loads should be hard up against the back or the vertical face of the fork arms before travelling. (if necessary, short loads or pallets should be placed on the ground, so that the forks can be fully inserted under the load and it is hard against the vertical face of the fork arms).
- Before travelling, the load should be tilted backwards to hold it into position.
It is important for forklift operators to ensure that the load ends up hard against the back or the vertical face of the fork arms and in the tilted back position. This helps the weight of the load to be in place while driving and helps to prevent it from falling or moving forward when the forklift brakes.
A load that is not tilted back or against the back of the forklift can come off easily. When a forklift operator applies the brake suddenly it can cause injury and damage. Carrying loads incorrectly reduces the amount of weight that a forklift can safely carry, making it likely to tip over and increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.