The use of forklift truck on a ramp or an incline / slope should be included on all training courses. This is vitally important as the risk of a forklift truck toppling over on a slope is higher. This is also an everyday activity for a forklift truck operator and should be approached with caution and performed by a trained operator who has received on the job familiarisation training (See HSE Rider-operated lift trucks – Approved Code of Practice ). Potential hazards of travelling on an incline include:
- danger of tipping over
- losing the load
- serious injury or death
What is an incline or a slope for a forklift truck and how do you measure it?
An incline or a slope is defined as an angle that exceeds 10%. Basically it is calculated by dividing the rise of the slope (how high it is) with how far it runs. The grade of the ramp or slope is calculated by dividing the rise by the run. In the example below, the rise of 5m divided by the run of 25m results in a 20% grade. See diagram below.
Forklift truck operators need to take specific precautions when the grade or slope angle is greater than 10%. Loaded forklift trucks must be driven with the load pointing up the ramp or slope and fork raise levels should be kept to the minimum to clear the ground. Forklift trucks must be able to stop on the ramp or slope as per the specifications provided by the manufacturer.
The Health and Safety Executive’s guidance on “Use Lift Trucks Safely – Advice for Operators” gives following advice for forklift trucks travelling on a ramp or slope:
- Always travel slowly when going down slopes
- When carrying a load, always ensure the forks face uphill when travelling up or down the slopes
- Without a load, always ensure the forks always face downhill when travelling up or down slopes
- Adjust the tilt (where fitted) to suit the gradient and raise the forks to clear the ground
- Never attempt to turn on or travel across a ramp or a slope
- Never leave the forklift truck on a gradient except in an emergency, in which case always chock the wheels.
Ruth Wallace of Wallace Forklift Training says, “Forklift truck is a large heavy vehicle, often carrying a large load and hence particular attention needs to be paid when travelling on a ramp or a slope. Always remember that forklift truck accidents can be fatal and so err on the side of caution and do not take any risks”.
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.