The number of industries that utilize powered industrial trucks are abundant: warehouses, manufacturing plants, landscaping firms, and construction companies. Powered trucks can handle a myriad of jobs, from picking up, putting down, raising, and lowering medium and large objects of all shapes and sizes.
They move crates in warehouses and help to load and unload dirt on construction sites. While this type of equipment is undoubtedly very useful, it can also be dangerous if not used correctly.
Here are some hazards to be aware of when your employees are using industrial trucks, and how to avoid potential injuries.
Sit-Down Truck Hazards
Some of the gravest hazards occur on powered industrial trucks where the operator is sitting down. This is due to the type of mechanism and how difficult it is to jump out of the truck if there is an issue. With sit-down trucks, the load lifted is higher and heavier than standing trucks, therefore causing more issues with a falling load. Operators are injured more often in these types of trucks because of the potential of tip-over accidents the loads can create. The operator typically tries to jump down, but they could then be crushed by the overhead guard. This is a hazard you must be aware of when your employees use sit-down industrial trucks.
Loss of Control From High Speeds
Another hazard to be aware of with powered trucks is the loss of control, which is usually from, simply put, going too fast. When operators first start using these trucks, they go slow and tend to be more cautious, as they are still learning to use them. However, over time, operators get used to the mechanisms of the truck, and will get more comfortable. Unfortunately, this can make them overly confident and they start moving too quickly. High speeds tend to increase the risk of lack of control of the truck, which is a hazard on its own. It could lead to the operator falling off the loading dock, the truck tipping over, or a skidding truck.
Even more hazards have to do with the instability of a powered industrial truck. A truck can become unstable for many reasons, from going too fast to trying to move a load that is too heavy for what the truck’s intent is. If the operator is carrying loads too high off the ground when it isn’t necessary, that can also cause instability of the truck, as well as their ability to steer appropriately. The vehicle becomes less stable when loads are moved multiple directions in quick succession, such as going up, down, then to the left and the right. The truck starts losing its stability if these movements are done too quickly or too forcefully. The longitudinal stability of a truck is lower when loads or raised, so keep that in mind as well.
How to Reduce Your Hazards
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the following tips can help you avoid these hazards with industrial powered trucks:
- Reduce speeds when lifting, lowering, and moving loads, as well as making turns with the steering wheel. Low speeds should be used at all times.
- Only handle loads that are centered and stable. Never arrange loads to be higher or heavier on one side or the other.
- If there is an attachment, do not fill the load to capacity.
- Be extremely careful when tilting is necessary.
In addition to these tips, make sure your business is well protected from hazards. This includes having workers’ compensation insurance for your employees, a property insurance policy, and a general liability insurance policy.