Accidents involving forklifts and other material handling equipment are common and can cause significant injuries to both operators and workers. In addition to the detrimental physical impact, the costs associated with any accident can be astronomical.
How New Features Make Material Handling Equipment Safer — Protecting Your Employees and Boosting Your Bottom Line
Consider these numbers — about 34,000 forklift accidents cause serious injuries every year while non-serious injuries result from an estimated 60,000 more accidents annually. According to the National Safety Council, the direct cost of an individual forklift accident that causes injury is $38,000 and the indirect costs, such as lost work time are 4X greater. Almost $200,000 lost in direct and indirect costs for one accident. Combined with the yearly estimates above, forklift accidents equate to millions and millions of dollars lost per year.
Fortunately, manufacturers are continually developing ways to make forklifts and other equipment safer and more efficient. If you use forklifts in your business, it is worth taking advantage of the latest innovations in equipment and accessories for added safety. Your investment can pay off with a better safety record to protect your
While the basic design of forklifts has not changed significantly over the last few decades, more features are expected from these machines today. As a result, forklifts can handle heavier loads and reach greater heights than in the past. However, bigger machines can mean a higher risk for accidents. To offset these risks, manufacturers are continually developing safety features that can make forklift operations more safe and efficient. These features include:
- Protective frames with increased visibility — Forklifts are now designed to protect operators by keeping the entire body within the truck’s frame. New methods of counterbalancing mean the truck’s load is distributed across the entire structure, even while using slimmer lift masts that give the operator a greater visual field.
- Speed controls — Speed may improve efficiency because it can increase the number of loads an operator can move. However, the higher the speed, the higher the chance of an accident. Intelligent assistance systems can automatically adjust and reduce the speed of a forklift depending on the weight of the load and whether it is turning or cornering.
- Ergonomically designed chairs — Chairs that are designed to support the operator’s body can reduce the risk of back pain and discomfort plus lessen the risk of injuries. Also, less distraction makes for safer operators as well.
Accessories for material handling equipment can make forklifts safer for both operators and people nearby. These innovations include:
- Pedestrian sensors — This type of sensor alerts the operator with both a visual and audible alarm when pedestrians are nearby. It can also predict the likely paths pedestrians may take as well as possible collisions and alert the operator to slow or change course to avoid them.
- Blue spot lights — How can you notify people that a forklift is nearby? These colored lights catch their attention better than many other methods. These lights signal the proximity of a forklift, even when it is around the corner or entering a trailer or building.
- Real-time metrics — Technology that gives operators access to real-time data, including the weight of the current load and the maximum reach height, helps ensure that operators keep those parameters in mind during use.
- Automatic shock sensors — If a forklift is involved in an accident, the impact triggers a sensor module which sounds an audible warning along with a visual one. The truck then automatically shuts down and can only be reactivated by a transponder key or control unit. These sensors help prevent accidents and also help you avoid impact damage to your trucks.
- Digital fleet management solutions — Fleet management software provides a variety of options for forklift operators. First, it lets operators configure trucks for their intended use by setting a maximum speed limit for the truck. The software also lets managers track and analyze the usage of each forklift and automatically transmits alerts and other information.
These latest innovations empower operators to use these trucks even more efficiently and safely. When evaluating whether or not to buy new equipment, it is often well worth the cost of newer models when it makes for a safer workplace that helps prevent accidents. Fewer accidents means fewer injuries, and less time lost to unplanned downtime.
Equipment Depot has the latest, innovative equipment plus forklift training and material handling safety courses. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about improving safety in your workplace.