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How To Properly Load A Forklift

One of the most important aspects of forklift safety is properly loading and unloading the forklift’s load. An improperly loaded forklift can cause instability and potentially lead to an accident. Take the following steps when loading, operating, and unloading a forklift:

First, check the lift’s load limit, which can be found on its data plate, and make sure you are not exceeding the weight listed. An overloaded lift may result in tip over. Also try to distribute the weight of the load evenly, and spread the forks as widely as possible in order to do so.

When it comes to positioning the load, place it according to the recommended load center, and keep the load as close to the front wheels as possible. Be sure the load is secure and stable before moving, using the appropriate fixtures for the type of load, like a carpet spike or drum grappler. When lifting heavier loads, tilt the mast of the forklift back and keep the load close to the wheels to avoid the possibility of tipping. Also be sure to tip the mast back a bit before moving the lift.

Once you have the load in place and are ready to carry, keep the forks six to ten inches above the ground to avoid any potential hazards and keep the load tilted back. Do not raise or lower the load while in motion, travel at an appropriate speed, and be sure to stay aware of your surroundings, looking in the direction you’re moving.

When you are in position and ready to unload, move the load slowly into position. Check your surroundings to make sure you have adequate room for overhead clearance and have two to three inches of clearance at the sides and back of the load. Tilt the load forward and then lower it. Next, level the forks before pulling them back slowly.

Lastly, always be sure the lift and other required materials are up to date and aren’t damaged or deformed. Keeping up with proper maintenance schedules will ensure the forklifts are operating at their best.

Handling Loads with a Forklift

The point of operating a forklift is to lift and move loads. And so part of learning how to drive a forklift is learning how to handle loads with the forklift. As a result, we’ll look at some tips and considerations for safely handling loads with a forklift in this section.

We’ll consider:

  • Preparation for safely handling a load
  • Approaching the load with the forklift
  • Mast position on the forklift
  • Lifting the load
  • Lowering the load
  • High tiering
  • Truck trailers and railroad cars

Safe Handling Preparation

There are some general rules to follow to ensure safe handling of loads with a forklift.

Before you handle a load, watch out for:

  • Loads which are off-center and may cause the forklift to tipover or the load to fall off the truck
  • Overloading the forklift, which can cause the forklift to tipover or the load to fall
  • Damaged loads
  • Loose loads

In addition, follow these requirements and recommended practices:

  • Always secure the load to ensure it’s stable and safely arranged.
  • Never carry damaged merchandise without first wrapping or banding it to secure it
  • Center the load when possible
  • When handling an off-cetner load that can’t be centered, use caution.
  • Distribute the heaviest part of an uncentered load nearest the front wheels of the forklift
  • Know the load capacity of the forklift and do not overload the truck.
  • Remember that the forklift’s load capacity is calculated assuming that the load is centered. If the load is off-center in any way, this may affect the forklift’s capacity and create hazards
  • Use the load extension backrest

Load restraint

Usually, the driver will secure the load, but if you are responsible for securing the load, you’ll need to ensure that enough straps, chains or ropes are used in relation to the load’s weight and whether it is blocked or not. The rules are:

100% of the weight forwards, 50% of the weight sideways and backwards and 20% of the weight vertically for blocked loads: a 10,000kg load will need at least 10,000kg of restraint.

200% of the weight forwards, 50% of the weight sideways and backwards and 20% of the weight vertically for loads that aren’t blocked: a 10,000kg load will need at least 20,000kg of restraint.

If a load is blocked by at least 150mm at the front, the restraints must be able to withstand 150% of the weight of the load: a 10,000kg load will need at least 15,000kg of restraint.

In the case of a curtainside or hard side truck or trailer, check the curtains are tight and any doors are closed and sealed properly.

Loading and Unloading Trailers Safely: Inspect Your Trailers

Inspecting the flooring of trailers is important before loading and after unloading. OSHA suggests that trailer floors be inspected to ensure they can support the forklift and load. Remember to check for weaknesses in unsupported sections of floor to help avoid collapse when a forklift enters a trailer. But don’t just stop at a floor inspection. Also look for weaknesses in walls and ceilings of the trailer. When a heavy forklift enters the trailer to deliver or remove a load, it puts pressure on the entire trailer structure. A bowing wall can just as easily lead to trailer collapse as a weak floor. Trailer inspection means inspecting the whole trailer.

Loading and Unloading Trailers Safely: Have the Right Wheel Equipment and Jacks

The OSHA powered industrial truck standard 29 CFR 1910.78 requires that wheel stops or chocks be put in place during loading and unloading help ensure trucks do not roll while they are being loaded or unloaded. On the occasion that a semitrailer is not attached to a tractor, the standard advises the fixed jacks may be necessary to prevent upending of the trailers. Having these pieces of equipment at your shipping and receiving docks is a must, and failure to use them in a needed application can create dangerous situations, whether you’re a driver, operator, or other associate in the area. This failure can also result in a hefty fine.

Loading and Unloading Trailers Safely: Use Dockboards Properly

The connection between the dock and the trailer is one of the most important places where safety protocols are necessary. Both portable and powered dockboards can create hazards if they are not properly maintained and used. All dockboards need to be properly secured by anchors or anti-slipping devices. It’s important to always drive straight across a dockboard so that the forklift does not topple in transition. And never stop on a dockboard, as the sustained weight of the forklift plus load can lead to collapse.

Loading and unloading trailers safely takes teamwork and dedication to inspections procedures. Make sure that you are aware of the loading and unloading protocols in your facility and are prepared to correct others when you see breaches of protocol.

Tips on How to Safely Load a Truck

Loading a truck safely takes consideration and care. Not only do the goods need to reach their destination safely without any kind of damage but also it is also essential that the method of loading does not pose any risk to the safety of the vehicle driver and ultimately other road users and members of the public.

The way that loading is completed depends on the vehicle size and type as well as the type(s) of goods that are being loaded for transport, the key considerations are:

  • Safety
  • Protection of the goods
  • The cost of transportation
  • The equipment costs
  • Maximum productivity taking everything else into consideration