How to Load and Unload Materials Safely
How to Load and Unload Materials Safely

How to Load and Unload Materials Safely

One of the most common causes of accidents, incidents, and injuries in the workplace is loading and unloading materials improperly. Though it seems like a routine task or run-of-the-mill errand, many employees do not take the proper steps that are needed to make sure the job is done correctly and safely. As a result, many businesses find themselves exposed to worker compensation claims and further losses that could have been mitigated, prevented, and avoided. Is your business undergoing such a situation? Do not worry. There are steps you can take and implement to stop future troubles from emerging in daily material handling operations.
Here is a brief how-to guide on loading and unloading materials safely.

1. Loading

When it comes to lifting a load, form is everything. However, previous to this it is imperative to be aware of any hazards such as insufficient clearance or materials that are stuck. This can be avoided by watching the overhead clearance to ensure there are no obstacles that could potentially jostle or spill the materials. There are many items found near the ceiling and rafters that could do such things, including beams, lighting, pipes, and sprinklers. According to Forklift Certification, it is then required to lift the load very carefully above the lower stack about four inches. Continue raising the load until it’s clear off the ground and follow this up by stabilizing it. After the load is lifted and completed, return the lift control lever to the neutral position.

2. Unloading

The dangers with unloading are far more obvious. There is the element of a falling load striking other workers or coming into contact with other materials that cause other objects to become unstable. Furthermore, there is always the element of the lift trucks being able to sustain a hold on the materials if the forklift is not rated for the weight it is carrying. It is pertinent to check the lift forks and the specifications of the machine you are using prior to operation as a safeguard. The unloading process mirrors what we would see in a loading operation. Slowly lower the materials until they are about a foot off the floor. Then if you wish to move with the goods, you can do so. Once complete, the machine needs to once again have its lift control lever placed in a neutral position.

3. Other Considerations

We already spoke about the importance of preventing an overload. However, there are other steps you can take to make any loading or unloading operation go off without a hitch. Training is key. With the creation of forklift simulators and continuous safety awareness courses, your drivers can ascertain and acquire essential skills and knowledge prior to execution. It is a sound practice for any business to take advantage of these innovative learning materials as they are known to improve safety, boost driver confidence, and lower accident rates. It is also important to review and amend standardized operating procedures to align with the above advisories as this is proven to produce the best results.
Bio: Tom Reddon is a forklift specialist and blog manager for the National Forklift Exchange. He also sits on the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) Executive Dialogue team. Follow him on Twitter at @TomReddon.

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