The past year introduced several new challenges for many companies in the supply chain and distribution industry, including an increased demand for shipped goods. Unfortunately, when workload demands increase and the pace picks up, it can be easy for employees to lose sight of basic safety precautions.
Yet it’s often the simplest, most basic safety practices that are key to keeping employees safe and materials moving. As material handling and supply chain operations work toward achieving a safety-first workplace culture—around National Forklift Safety Day and year-round—it’s important to make sure crews are informed, engaged, and proactive.
Establishing ongoing safety briefings is a great way to keep employees informed throughout the year, share valuable seasonal safety reminders, and address any questions or concerns they might have. Here are some basic, but essential, safety topics to address in your safety briefings:
1. Wear proper personal protective equipment, including a hard hat, protective footwear, and high-visibility clothing.
2. Buckle up. While this may be one of the most obvious rules, it’s also one of the most important, as overturned forklifts are a leading cause of forklift-related accidents and fatalities.
3. Know the forklift’s lifting capacity—and don’t exceed it. Load capacities can be found in the forklift’s operating manual and are listed on the equipment itself. Keeping loads within the equipment’s weight capacity decreases the risk of tipping.
4. Maintain slow, safe travel speeds and sound the horn when vision is obstructed to alert pedestrians or other operators.
5. Operate with caution on grades and ramps. When descending a ramp with a loaded forklift, always travel in reverse with the forks and payload pointed up the grade. When traveling up a ramp with an unloaded forklift, keep the forks pointed downgrade.
1. Keep open flames, heat, and ignition sources away from propane cylinders and refueling equipment at all times.
2. Handle propane cylinders carefully, making sure not to drop, throw, or drag them. Employees should also be mindful of using proper lifting techniques when handling cylinders.
3. Inspect cylinders before operation, checking for rust, dents, gouges, or leaks. If a cylinder shows signs of wear or leaks, remove it from service and notify your propane provider.
4. Secure the pressure-relief valve on the cylinder, making sure the relief-valve fitting is roughly 180 degrees from the forklift’s locating pin. After operation, close the service valve on the cylinder to prevent unintended fuel loss—and potential injury—around internal combustion (IC) engines
5. Store cylinders in a secure rack or cage, located away from exits, entryways, stairways, and high-traffic areas.
Businesses operating propane-powered equipment have a beneficial resource they can rely on: the safety support of their local propane supplier. Depending on which refueling option businesses choose, propane suppliers can teach crews how to refill cylinders themselves (on-site refueling) or can refill cylinders for them (cylinder exchange programs). Forklift operators can also receive safety training from propane suppliers, including guidance on how to safely install propane cylinders on their lift trucks. Further, propane suppliers can inspect cylinders each time they’re exchanged, remove damaged cylinders from service, and repair or replace leaky valves and O-rings on cylinders as needed.
To learn more about forklift safety or to access helpful resources from the Propane Education & Research Council, visit Propane.com/SafetyFirst.