Safety Tips for Forklifts Navigating Up Inclines
If you want to be safe while operating a forklift, you need awareness, balance, and trained driving habits. All these traits are especially true when it comes to driving up ramps, hills, and other inclines. To keep forklift operators and those who work around them safe, we have compiled these safety tips for navigating forklifts up inclines.
A forklift operator needs to be aware of his/her surroundings at all times within their environment. That should not change when it comes to driving a forklift up a ramp. An operator should be even more aware when dealing with inclines. First, they should always have their gaze pointed in the direction of travel. At times, when carrying a big/tall load up an incline, the driver’s view may be obscured. At these times, a spotter should be on hand to offer guidance.
Establish Direction Before Taking Incline
Turning while driving a forklift on a ramp puts the driver at risk of tip-overs and losing their load. Because of this, the driver must establish their direction before they drive up the incline. The path should be in a straight line down the center of the incline (not too close any edge).
Trying to go back up a slope with a load is also dangerous and should not be attempted. Most of a forklift’s weight is in the carriage located on the back of a forklift. Toyota has created the SAS Forklift Stability System to help combat against tipovers. However, that doesn’t mean you should still scale an incline backward with all the weight of the forklift first. Most likely, the operator will have to use more power to ascend the ramp, and if they are successful, the amount force could cause the forklift to lose control once you have made it to the top, which could lead to operator injury.
Managing the Load
When an operator is driving a forklift on a level surface, they want to tilt their load slightly, so it doesn’t drag on the floor. But, an operator doesn’t want to lift the load too far off the ground because it could throw the forklift’s active stability off, causing potential tipovers and accidents.
The same can’t be said when managing a load up an incline. Since you are driving the forklift forward up an incline, you need to tilt the load as far back as possible to avoid banging the skid on the ground. Then, you must lift the load high as well to make sure your load doesn’t get damaged by the incline. Tilting your load back and lifting it hight will obstruct the initial visibility of the operator, which is why it is essential to understand your environment before going up the incline and have a spotter if possible—one more important tip. With a high uptilt load, you will affect your load center of the forklift. Be sure not to exceed the maximum carrying capacity of the forklift, or you will not make it up the incline and could potentially cause an accident.
Other Driving Best Practices
It’s also important to be aware that your machine’s center of gravity is further back when you are driving uphill. Because of this, balance is more challenging to maintain, so it is important to drive slowly. If you need to stop and leave your forklift while it is on an incline, you should also put a block beneath the wheels and engage the parking brake to keep it from rolling downhill.
Safely taking a forklift up an incline is not a complicated process, but it is one that requires knowledge and awareness, so it is a skill that needs teaching to new forklift operators. For a machine that works well on inclines and level surfaces, consider Toyota electric forklifts for your warehouse or factory.