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» Warehouse Lift Glossary

Lift Truck Accidents

Sadly, thousands of people are hurt each year in lift truck accidents. The worst part is that most of these accidents could have been avoided by the operator having a better understanding of the truck and having been provided with proper training.

The most important thing to understand is the stability pyramid, which is the key to keeping a lift truck upright. If the trucks center of gravity is kept within this imaginary space, then the lift does not tip. To determine the space, an imaginary line would be drawn from the front wheel to the front wheel, and then back to the rear steer axles pivot point. The lines create a pretend triangle, which is the stability pyramid.

It is important to understand that as the operator raises or lowers the loads, or tilts the trucks mast, this stability pyramid changes, by growing taller, shrinking, skewing, or becoming more vertical. Additionally, when the forks are raised, the stability pyramid becomes elongated. When this happens, the lift becomes tall and skinny, making it a prime target for tipping over.

Another important piece of information is that when the center of gravity rises due to the load being lowered only a small shift in distance is needed for the truck to go outside the narrow top portion of the imaginary line. Again, the problem is created for tip over. Another potential cause for tip over is if momentum multiplies. In this situation, torque is created by turning. In addition, working on rough surfaces or on slopes is cause for potential tip over.

If a truck operator can understand these concepts and principles, then he or she can operate the lift truck differently to prevent an accident. With proper training, the operator will learn that if a load is carried at the top of the forks, or if the mast is tilted too far forward, or loads on high on the tilted mast, the center of gravity is thrown off and the operator is not in the zone for trouble.

It is crucial that all lift truck operators wear a seatbelt and keep their platform clean. Too often, operators will share stories of daring attempts of jumping to safety when the forklift rolled down the loading dock. Something like this is certainly not something to brag about in that it only adds to the potential risk.

As the warehouse management, your role is to ensure all employees that will work on a forklift of any kind, knows all aspects of the equipment and its operations. Without this information, the employee is placed in a very dangerous position that can be not only harmful to his or her self, but also costly to the company.

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