Forklifts, pallet jacks and other mobile equipment make material handling easier and more efficient for employees of factories, warehouses and distribution centers. When not utilized properly, this equipment can also put the safety of material handling in jeopardy. Below are 10 ways employee safety can be improved through the proper use of material handling equipment:

1. Allow only trained, certified and qualified employees to operate forklifts and other material handling equipment.

2.  Perform daily inspections and walk-around’s on all material handling equipment.

3. Keep paths and aisles clean and free of any loose debris that could get in the way of machinery.

4. Operators and supervisors should know and follow the size and weight restrictions for each piece of equipment and never attempt to lift or transport more than the recommended capacity.

5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn at all times during equipment operation, and seat belts and harnesses should always be used.

6. Employees who do not operate machinery but work near it should also be properly trained in safe practices for doing so.

7. When finished with use, equipment should be lowered to ground level, turned off with keys removed and stored out of the way.

8. Materials should be inspected before loading to ensure the pallet is intact, any lids or protective wrapping are properly sealed, and the stack is stable.

9.  Have an emergency plan in place and make sure all employees know how to execute it.

10. Perform preventive maintenance (PM) on all equipment on a regular basis to ensure it is always in good working order.

Following these simple Safety Measures is one of the easiest ways to improve material handling safety in any facility.  A safer workplace means fewer injuries (and loss of life), less downtime (accidents often need to be investigated for causes), and less damage to property and equipment. 

Get the right training and you will know what to do and when to do it. More importantly, you will know what you are actually doing, and why!