Forklift truck operations are an essential part of everyday work at most warehouses and factories. However safety is critical as forklift trucks are large heavy vehicles and often operate in busy area with many workers. Over quarter of all workplace transport accidents involve forklift trucks. Therefore safety is vitally important and overhead guards protect the forklift operator from falling objects.
Overhead guards were developed in 1960’s and is a cage-like sturdy structure covering the overhead of the forklift operator. It helps guard the forklift operator from falling packages, boxes and bagged materials. However, it is important to understand that the forklift guard will not withstand the impact of falling capacity load from height. In the event of a falling capacity load, the support of the overhead guard structure that received the heaviest loading is designed to absorb energy and deform to deflect the falling capacity load.
A daily inspection of the forklift overhead guards is recommended to check for anything broken, damaged, or missing. This could help to prevent serious accidents. In cases where you need to repair overhead guard, welding is not an acceptable option. Damages such cracks in the weld or bent legs are a safety concern and it is necessary to replace the overhead guard in such circumstances. Missing mounting bolts should be replaced with the manufacturers recommended ones as they are designed for the job. Any additions to overhead guards such as brackets for inventory control equipment, radios, weather protection, sirens or lights should be mounted by clamp brackets or other methods approved by the manufacturer but not welded.
The use of forklift trucks is regulated by PUWER 98 and LOLER 98. Health and Safety Executive’s, L117 gives information on rider operated lift trucks operator training and safe use – Approved Code of Practice and guidance. As falling loads are unpredictable and could also injure nearby workers and hence specific training and safety procedures and protocol in your facility should be adhered to and overhead guards are not a substitute for good judgment and care in load handling.
Other safety measures for forklift operator against falling objects are:
- Wear a hard hat when appropriate for additional protection.
- Keep hands and feet within the forklift truck to avoid danger of falling loads.
- Use a load backrest extension behind the forks whenever necessary to minimize the possibility of the load or part of it from falling backward.
Ruth Wallace of Forklift Training London says “overhead guard are useful but does not provide a solution of falling objects for all eventualities. Appropriate risk assessment should be carried out and implemented specific to your operation”.
Wallace School of Transport including Forklift Training in London is a fully accredited RTITB company with over 60 years’ experience. You can be trained either at your own work site or at Wallace Centre in Park Royal. If you have any questions, call Wallace Forklift Training for free on 0800 612 8948, choose option 3 or click here to email us.