Forklift Attachments Can Be A Hazard
By default, forklift operation typically involves lifting palleted loads using the standard forks that extend from the mast. This is the form of operation most warehouse employees find the most familiar, and the accompanying rules and principles are covered in most standard training courses. But for non-standard loads, most forklifts can accept attachments like drum clamps, paper roll clamps, carton clamps, rotators and devices that can push or pull objects across the floor instead of lifting them.
These attachments tend to bring a host of specific hazards to the workplace, and these hazards can be compounded by a lack of familiarity and experience on the part of some operators. Keep these in mind, and make sure your training program addresses these issues if your materials handling workplace makes use of these attachments.
Attachments alter the length and width of a forklift in ways that may not be intuitive to those who are maneuvering the lift in tight spaces or around narrow corners. While backing up, moving forward, moving under low hanging obstructions or rotating, operators should recognize and respect the dimensions of the attachment.
Manufacturing specifications establish the capacity of a lift truck at, for example, 5,000 pounds of lifting capability. But adding a 100 or 1,000 pound attachment reduces that capacity. Operators will need to divide loads or reduce individual tasks in order to stay within bounds.
Attachments shift the center of gravity and stability of the lift truck and load. For example, most attachments move the center of gravity forward from the mast by several inches. As the distance increases between the center of gravity and the mast, the total weight of the load must be reduced.
Attachments must be affixed properly to the forks and the mast. The attachment process is not always intuitive and may require at least one or more training sessions. Before attachments can be put into action, they should be included in a preflight review and secured properly.
Sometimes the presence of an attachment can impede visual clearance around the forklift, and sometimes either the attachment or the load positioned upon it can change the visual field around the operator. Operators should be comfortable with this shift and be able to use mirrors and signaling devices to protect the pedestrians around them, the equipment, the load and themselves from harm.