Forklift maintenance is crucial for many reasons, including safety of employees and productivity of your warehouse. All machines should be regularly checked for any damage and/or missing parts. There are several ways to ensure that your fleet is in best possible condition. These include daily checks performed by truck operators, timely forklift service operations and thorough inspections in accordance to LOLER.
Forklift operator should perform two types of daily checks: visual pre-use checks and operational pre-use checks. The first type includes visible features of the forklift in standing position, as well as surroundings and area in which it will operate. The second type of inspection involves a more detailed look at the forklift. If operator notices any issues, he should immediately pass them to the supervisor who will then resolve them before using the truck. You may or may not require special forklift service depending on the type of maintenance required.
Visual inspection involves general conditions and cleanliness of the forklift and the space around. Look for any obstacles on the floor, as well as overhead obstructions, both of which could cause accidents. Make sure that safety equipment is in place. When it comes to visual checks of the forklift itself, inspect liquids, such as fuel and engine oil levels. Make sure battery is fully charged and check its condition. Visible wires where they shouldn’t be, spills, wrong electrolyte levels and lack of proper security are things that require attention. Other loose, missing or damaged elements, such as bolts and screws also need checking. Tires and wheels could potentially be worn, punched or have low air pressure if you use pneumatic tires. Forks can’t show signs of cracks. Forklift cage must be in a good condition as well.
Brakes are an important part of the operational pre-use check. Foot brakes should hold and work smoothly. Parking brakes should hold against delicate acceleration. Deadman seat brakes shouldn’t let go when the operator stands up from his seat. Smooth operation of lifting and tilting mechanisms is essential. Don’t ever neglect non-operational headlights and warning lights. Listen to any unusual and suspicious noises when you switch on the engine and during manoeuvring the forklift.
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Other than daily inspections of your forklift fleet, you should be aware that periodical forklift service ensures safety of work and high performance of your warehouse. Thorough examination ensures verification that all elements of the forklift work properly or early detection of any issues. Forklift service then allows for quick return of the forklift to work and minimises risks and loses.
As to when such forklift service should be carried out, there are a few guidelines and tips. These are specified by Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER). Examination should follow a specific checklist, by a competent person, who then writes a detailed report following examination. Report includes date of the examination, date of next examination and details of any faults found during inspection. There is no specific definition of ‘competent person’ but they must have sufficient knowledge and practice to perform checks. The designated person doesn’t necessarily have to be an employee of an independent company, but must be impartial and not under the influence of fear or favour.
Thorough examination and forklift service requirements
Your equipment needs checking before its first use on the site. Especially after on-site assembly. This is to ensure that the truck is safe to be used. Similarly to tower cranes that require assembly on each site, such equipment needs checking each time you want to use it in different location. Trucks need regular forklift service while in use. Specific time intervals between inspections are specified by LOLER and are either every 6 or 12 months. Six months intervals are required for lifting equipment and accessories used to lift people. All other lifting equipment needs to be inspected every 12 months. Inspection is crucial following special circumstances, such as damage, use for longer time or significant changes made to the truck that can affect its performance. Make sure the forklift drivers have gone through sufficient training – this will outline how and where to do it.