Australian Forklift Training , an official training company in Australia, offers practical advice and assistance in acquiring forklift licences.
Australian Forklift Training also provides forklift safety tips for industries using forklifts on their sites. Australian Forklift Training emphasises on using forklifts on slopping surfaces.
Taking a forklift up or down a slope the wrong way can be disastrous. Far too many operators do not know the rite and wrong way to travel on a slopping surface.
When a forklift is taken the wrong way up or down a slope or ramp it will do one of the following:
- Have the load fall off (and in most cases the forklift will run the load over)
- Tip over forward (with the back wheels lifting off of the ground until the forks dig into the surface)
- The front wheels will lock up and the forklift will slide uncontrollably down the slope
- It will wheel spin and not be able to safely make it up the ramp or slope
When using a forklift on any sort of ramp or sloped ground, the fork should always be driven straight up or down the slope. (Never across a steep slope).
The load should always face uphill. This means that if the operator is travelling up the hill, the load faces uphill. If the operator wants to come down the same slope, then he should reverse down with the load still facing uphill.
Going down a hill with the load first can cause the load to fall off. Even worse, if the driver hits the breaks suddenly the forklift can tip forwards.
When travelling on a slope unloaded, the rules are a little different however.
If the forklift is taken down a steep slope or incline, it often will need to be driven forks first as all of the driving and breaking is done with the front wheels.
Going forks first puts more weight on the breaking wheels giving the operator more traction. (And a better chance of stopping).
The correct procedure should be to go forwards at a low speed with the forks as close to the ground as possible. Operators should go slow enough that if the breaks need to be applied in an emergency, the back of the forklift would not lift up.
The forks should be as low as possible, so that if they do travel faster than they should or have to break suddenly, the forks will hit the ground. (Preventing the back from lifting far).
When going up a steep or slippery ramp, the forklift may need to be driven in reverse to put more weight over the front wheels. (To avoid wheel spinning).
It is up to the operator and the company to look at the slopes and ramps on the site and safe procedures can be worked out for the operators to follow.
How one should train the drivers to work on a slope will depend on how steep or slippery the slopes or ramps are. It is important to have a procedure for things like these that the drivers are taught.
Without them, if a driver has an accident on a slope, WorkCover (and the insurance company) will most likely say the company or the trainer has failed to correctly train their operators.