For businesses that use forklifts, ensuring their safe operation is crucial. This is not only vital for the safety of the operator but also for the protection of other employees, equipment, and inventory. As such, regular inspections of forklifts play a crucial role. But how often should these inspections occur, and what specific occurrences might necessitate an unplanned check?
Regulatory Requirements for Forklift Inspection
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a governing body that sets and enforces safety standards in the workplace, forklift inspections must be conducted regularly. Specifically, OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.178(q)(7) states: “Industrial trucks shall be examined before being placed in service, and shall not be placed in service if the examination shows any condition adversely affecting the safety of the vehicle. Such examination shall be made at least daily. Where industrial trucks are used on a round-the-clock basis, they shall be examined after each shift.”1
This essentially means that forklifts need to be inspected at least once daily before use. If the forklift is used across multiple shifts in a day, it should be inspected after each shift.
Occurrences That Might Require Immediate Inspection
While the regulatory requirements provide a base frequency for inspections, certain occurrences or suspicions might necessitate an immediate check of the forklift. These include:
- Collisions: Anytime a forklift has a collision—whether with a stationary object, another piece of equipment, or inventory—it should be inspected. Even if the collision appears minor, there might be damage that’s not immediately visible but could lead to a malfunction or safety issue later on.
- Visible Fluid Leaks: If there’s any sign of fluid leaking from the forklift, an immediate inspection is necessary. Fluid leaks could indicate issues with hydraulic systems or potential oil or fuel problems that could lead to operational failures or fires.
- Brake Failures or Issues: Brakes are one of the most vital safety systems on a forklift. If an operator suspects any issue with the brakes, whether they feel less responsive or make unusual noises, an immediate inspection is crucial.
- Operational Shortcomings: If the forklift doesn’t operate as expected—such as difficulty steering, unusual vibrations, or problems with lifting and lowering loads—an inspection should be conducted. These issues could signify problems that might compromise safety if not addressed promptly.
- Warning Lights or Alarms: Modern forklifts are equipped with various warning systems. If any warning light illuminates or an alarm sounds, it’s an indication that something might be amiss and requires attention.
Best Practices for Forklift Inspection
- Document Everything: Always maintain a record of each inspection, noting any issues found and repairs made. This not only ensures compliance with OSHA regulations but also provides a history that can be useful for preventative maintenance and future inspections.
- Train Operators: Ensure that all operators are trained in both how to conduct inspections and what to look for. An operator familiar with their equipment will be better equipped to notice when something is off.
- Maintain a Checklist: Having a standardized checklist can help operators ensure they cover all essential areas during their inspection. This list should include checks for tires, forks, brakes, steering, warning devices, and safety equipment, among others.
- Prompt Repairs: If an inspection reveals any issues, prioritize the repair. It’s crucial to address problems immediately rather than allowing them to persist, which can lead to bigger issues or safety hazards.
In conclusion, while there are clear regulatory guidelines regarding the frequency of forklift inspections, operators and businesses should remain vigilant. Any sign of malfunction, no matter how minor it seems, should prompt an immediate inspection to ensure the continued safety and efficiency of the equipment.