Safety Tips for Operating Rough Terrain Forklifts

Rough terrain forklifts are a type of material handling equipment that can travel and lift loads on rough or uneven surfaces. They are commonly used in industries such as construction, agriculture, mining, forestry, landscaping, recycling, etc. They are also known as telehandlers, telescopic handlers, or variable reach forklifts.

Forklift Driver, Forklift Operator Training

Rough terrain forklifts are powerful and versatile machines that can improve productivity and efficiency on outdoor jobsites. However, they also pose some unique safety challenges and risks that require proper training and precautions. According to OSHA, forklifts account for about 85 fatal accidents per year in the U.S., and many of them involve rough terrain forklifts.

To prevent accidents and injuries, operators of rough terrain forklifts should follow these safety tips:

1. Get trained and certified

Operators of rough terrain forklifts should complete a comprehensive training program that covers the theory and practice of operating these machines safely. The training should include topics such as load charts, stability, controls, attachments, hazards, inspections, maintenance, etc. Operators should also pass a written test and a practical evaluation to obtain a certification that is valid for three years.

2. Inspect the machine before use

Operators should perform a pre-operational inspection of the rough terrain forklift before each shift or use. The inspection should check the tires, brakes, steering, lights, horn, seatbelt, rollover protection system, hydraulic system, fluid levels, etc. Any defects or damages should be reported and repaired before using the machine.

3. Read the load charts and follow the capacity limits

Operators should read and understand the load charts that are displayed on the machine or in the operator's manual. The load charts show the maximum weight that the machine can lift safely at different boom angles and lengths. Operators should never exceed the capacity limits or lift loads that are not balanced or secured properly.

4. Be aware of the terrain and surroundings

Operators should conduct a hazard assessment of the work area before using the rough terrain forklift. They should identify and avoid any obstacles or hazards such as slopes, dips, holes, trenches, narrow aisles, ground and overhead obstructions, power lines, etc. They should also be aware of other vehicles and pedestrians that may cross their path and use caution when driving near them.

5. Drive slowly and carefully

Operators should drive the rough terrain forklift at a safe speed that allows them to stop or maneuver in case of an emergency. They should also drive with the load as low as possible to maintain stability and visibility. They should avoid sudden turns or stops that may cause the load to shift or tip over. They should also use the appropriate mode of steering (front-wheel, rear-wheel, or crab) depending on the situation.

6. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)

Operators should wear earplugs, safety glasses, a hard hat, gloves, and a seatbelt when operating the rough terrain forklift. The seatbelt is mandatory and can prevent operators from being thrown out of the machine in case of a rollover or collision. The other PPE can protect operators from noise, dust, debris, etc.

7. Refuel or recharge safely

Operators should refuel or recharge the rough terrain forklift only when it is turned off and parked in a designated area away from sources of ignition or heat. They should also follow the manufacturer's instructions and precautions when handling fuel or batteries.

By following these safety tips, operators of rough terrain forklifts can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries on outdoor jobsites. They can also improve their performance and efficiency by using these machines properly and responsibly.