Forklift operation is no easy task and there are various safety precautions that must be taken when someone is operating the machinery. Being a power industrial truck, forklifts are regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA for short. OSHA clearly states that any person operating a forklift must go through the proper training beforehand. However, there are some areas of forklift safety that OSHA does not make clear to employers. Because of this, you may be asking the same questions many other employers are asking. Take a look at these frequently asked questions to gain a better understanding of forklift safety.
Is There a Speed Limit When Operating a Forklift in a Warehouse or Factory Setting?
OSHA does not have specific speed limits when operating a forklift in a factory setting. However, there are a few factors that OSHA considers when determining a safe speed, which include the type of truck, the load being carried, operating surface conditions and pedestrian traffic to name a few. While there are no specific speed limits for forklift safety, OSHA has a few general rules regarding speed:
- 1910.178(n)(1) – All traffic regulations shall be observed, including authorized plant speed limits. A safe distance shall be maintained approximately three truck lengths from the truck ahead, and the truck shall be kept under control at all times.
- 1910.178(n)(7) – Grades shall be ascended or descended slowly.
- 1910.178(n)(8) – Under all travel conditions, the truck shall be operated at a speed that will permit it to be brought to a stop in a safe manner.
- 1910.178(n)(10) – The driver shall be required to slow down for wet and slippery floors.
Are Forklifts Required to have Backup Alarms or Warning Lights?
OSHA does not require that forklifts be equipped with backup alarms or warning lights. However, the operator of the forklift is required to be equipped with a sound-producing device to warn pedestrians and other drivers. This is explained in one of OSHA’s general rules regarding speed:
- 1910.178(n)(4) – The driver shall be required to slow down and sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed. If the load being carried obstructs forward view, the driver shall be required to travel with the load trailing. This is the primary time when a sound-producing device must be used, though there are specific circumstances that call for more warning signs.
Must Forklifts be Equipped with a Fire Extinguisher?
It is not specifically required that employers equip forklifts with fire extinguishers. However, if a manufacturer has equipped their forklift with a fire extinguisher then it cannot be removed without written consent from the manufacturer. Only if certain hazards are present does OSHA require a forklift to be equipped with a fire extinguisher. Check with OSHA’s fire protection requirements to see if your forklifts are being operated around these hazardous materials.
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Can Forklift Operators Wear Headphones?
This may seem like an obvious “no” but the use of headphones by forklift operators is not addressed by OSHA’s occupational noise exposure regulation or the powered industrial truck standard address. However, OSHA has issued Letters of Interpretations that do not recommend the use of headphones when operating a forklift. Headphones can easily prevent the operator from hearing workplace noise including other forklift warning signs or shouted warnings from fellow employees. To ensure forklift safety, do not allow employees to use headphones while operating the forklift.
Forklift Safety is Crucial
When operating a forklift in a warehouse or factory setting, safety should be your number one concern. Improper use of a forklift can lead to damage and injury. At C&C Lift Truck, our customers are our number one priority. As one of New Jersey’s leading forklift dealers, we understand the importance of forklift safety. We offer safety training that takes place at your facility with your equipment. Each operator is guided through informative classroom sessions and interactive hands-on training to ensure safe operating practices. To ensure that your employees are fully trained and completely understand forklift safety, contact us today!
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