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Why Regular Maintenance Is Essential to Forklift Safety

Every company wants to run at full efficiency. One minute of unexpected downtime costs big money.

In fact, 81% of companies surveyed said 60 minutes of unplanned downtime costs them more than $300,000.

However, it’s more than a loss of productivity and money. When your equipment fails, the safety of your employees is at risk.

Regularly scheduled maintenance will help reduce equipment issues and keep your workforce safer. You may be wondering, “How?”

In this guide, we’re going over five maintenance tips to help you maintain forklift safety.

Why Forklift Safety Matters

More than one million forklifts are operating in the United States. They’re found in warehouses, grocery stores, big-box retailers — the list goes on and on.

Since they’re one of the most common pieces of machinery in many American industries, it makes sense they break down often. But operators are often injured as well.

The most common injuries are:

  • Neck and back pain
  • Whiplash
  • Injuries to muscles, tendons, nerves

In some cases, these injuries are the result of sitting too long or not having the proper posture. You need to train your employees on proper safety and operating techniques to avoid these injuries.

However, some of these are due to faulty equipment. Moreover, these issues are avoidable.

Take a look at five maintenance steps you can put in place to reduce downtime and increase safety.

1. Inspect the Machine Before Each Shift

Inspecting every forklift before an operator turns it on isn’t just a quick preventative maintenance measure, it’s an OSHA requirement.

It’s pretty simple, but it starts with employee training.

Your operators need to know how to check brakes, steering controls, and warning devices. They also need to know to look under the carriage for leaks and check the machine’s fluid levels. The seatbelt function and overhead guards should also get inspected.

Identifying a problem beforehand will allow you to call for repairs without putting the employee’s safety at risk.

2. Follow Your Forklift Maintenance Schedule

Your forklifts are a necessity for your business to run. But, they get used so often, it may seem like you can’t afford to have them down for maintenance.

What you can’t afford is to have a faulty forklift lead to injury.

Remember, your company loses thousands of dollars during unplanned downtime. However, if you schedule the maintenance in advance, you can make adjustments to the day’s workflow.

Oil and changes, battery maintenance, spark plug replacement — all of these need to get done on schedule. Check your manual or call the manufacturer for the recommended timeframes.

3. Check the Tires

The tires should be a part of the daily inspection routine. When tires wear out, steering and braking can be affected.

Forklift tires are essential for its operation, so make sure they’re at the proper pressure, and the tread isn’t worn. OSHA provides a detailed checklist that also requires tires low on the tread or missing rubber get sidelines until they’re fixed.

4. Clean Your Forklifts Once a Week

Cleaning your forklifts are essential to them running right. A clean machine also reduces safety issues.

Your forklift takes on many contaminants on a weekly basis. Lint, dirt, dust, sawdust, plastic shavings — all these get caught in your filters, radiators, and even the motor.

Every week, the mechanical parts should get blown out and wiped down. It’s not a glamorous job, but it prevents breakdowns and injuries caused by a malfunction.

5. Handle All Issues ASAP

It would be best if you instructed employees to come to you or their supervisor with any suspected issues.

If something doesn’t seem right like a warning light is on, or there’s corrosion around the battery terminal, you need to handle it at once.

Don’t Put You or Your Employees at Risk

The number one way to ensure forklift safety is proper training. Train your employees on how to operate the machine. They must also have instruction on how to inspect the forklift.

Second, consider a maintenance contract with a reputable industrial repair company. For more than 40 years, Kor-Pak has serviced heavy equipment for many industries.

Contact us today for any questions about parts or service.

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