What am I able to add to my forklift in terms of safety products and what is restricted?
The loading dock is, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most dangerous areas in a warehouse. It’s a place where people, products, and powerful lift trucks come together, and that can be a recipe for disaster.
Lift truck accidents account for a disproportionate number of loading dock incidents, but having the right safety equipment on your truck can help reduce the risk of one happening. Here’s what you need to know about what you can (and can’t) add to your lift truck to boost it’s safety rating.
OSHA rules for forklift attachments
OSHA recognizes that forklift attachments can help improve the functionality – or in this case, the safety – of the trucks. Before adding anything to an industrial vehicle, however, you must consider whether it could pose an additional hazard to the workplace (read more in Staying Safe When Attached: Forklift Safety with Attachments).
To this end, OSHA rules specify that any additions that could affect the safety or capacity of a vehicle must go through two safety checks:
- Operator training
- Manufacturer approval
Operator training helps ensure the lift truck operator is well versed on the use of the attachment. Manufacturer approval – which must be in writing – ensures the attachment is appropriate for the forklift in question.
It’s not mandatory to go through these steps if the attachment does not affect the safety or capacity of the truck, but if there are any questions or concerns about a potential safety attachment, it’s important to reach out to the manufacturer to clarify.
Safety additions you should consider
There are a boatload of additions you can attach to your forklift to help improve safety for both the driver and those in the surrounding area. While individual needs may vary, the most common ones tend to help the driver and truck see and be seen.
- Reversing alarms are standard on lift trucks, but they are often loud “bleeps” that can feel disruptive to those working in and around the loading dock. Low noise directional alarms can be great alternatives to maintain a more peaceful work environment.
- Specialist mirrors are commonly found on large tractor-trailers and even on everyday passengers cars to make parking easier. A wide range of mirrors is available for lift trucks, which can enhance visibility and prevent potentially deadly pedestrian collisions (learn more in Forklift Safety 101: Tips for Preventing Forklift Fatalities).
- Proximity alarms alert drivers when someone or something is in the danger zone around the truck. They can also alert pedestrians to the presence of the forklift.
- Speed inhibitors are exactly what they sound like – they inhibit the speed of the truck. This can be especially helpful during busy times when drivers may be inclined to push the speed limits in an effort to get things done faster.
- Cameras can act as movement or visibility aids and can be particularly helpful to position forks or when the lift truck is carrying a large load.
- Ergonomic enhancements go a long way to preventing operator injury. They may include joystick controls, tiller arms, special seating, and stowage, among others. If major amendments are being made, it’s a good idea to check with the manufacturer to confirm the enhancements are safe.
- Blue spot LED lamps give advance warning to pedestrians in the vicinity that a forklift is heading their way. While a horn honk is usually used to alert people of the truck’s presence, an LED lamp can give a clear visual cue for those who might miss the sound.
While many forklifts come with standard safety equipment, it’s a good idea to check in with truck operators on a regular basis to find out whether this equipment is meeting their needs. By proactively addressing potential forklift hazards, you’re helping improve the safety of the number one cause of accidents on the loading dock.
More Q&As from our experts
- How can employers prepare for OSHA's final rule?
- What type of clothing should be worn inside a clean room?
- What are the most common toxic gases in confined spaces?