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How to safely handle pallets with a forklift?

How to safely handle pallets with a forklift?

  • 2024-05-02

How to safely handle pallets with a forklift?

1. Check pallet condition and type before lifting

Before lifting and during the lifting process, take some time to inspect the pallet from the ends and sides. Are there any cracks, splits, or other obvious damage. Set aside any damaged pallets that could cause product damage, personal injury, or pallets you have doubts about. If it looks different than the pallets you normally receive and you are unsure about its racking strength, verify before lifting.

2. Standardize and stabilize cargo loads

Overhanging and low-hanging cargo are particularly dangerous, both of which can easily cause product damage. Overhanging cargo can rub or get stuck with other adjacent cargo or objects. Low-hanging cargo can be more unstable than cargo that completely fills the top of the pallet. The short-term solution is to use extra caution when handling these cargoes. At this point, additional pallet wrapping can help protect hanging cargo and better secure low-hanging cargo.

3. Stop and keep the forks steady before entering the pallet

Getting into the pallet quickly with a forklift may seem like a good idea to save time. However, this practice may backfire. Sudden impacts can cause product and pallet damage, not to mention the extra handling required to pick up cartons that have fallen off the pallet. Forced entry can push off the pallet's top guides, while entry with tilted forks can pop the guides off.

4. Lower the load slowly and gently

Forklift operators often lower loads quickly to save time. However, be sure to slow down before contacting the floor. Vibrations can cause pallet damage, deformed cartons, scratches, dents, and other trauma to the products inside. 

5. Make sure the load is stable before moving

Before lifting the load, make sure the load is stable and centered. Avoid stabbing the forks too short or not fully into the pallet. This practice can cause the deck board to separate and the load to be poorly centered. Pallets with off-center loads can fall, or even worse, cause the forklift to tip over. Remember that with longer loads, the center of gravity moves away from the forklift, reducing the forklift's safe lifting capacity. You can determine if the load can be safely lifted by checking the forklift nameplate. 

6. Stay low and drive carefully

You've centered the load and are ready to go. The higher you lift cargo, the less stable your forklift will be when turning or navigating uneven terrain. Keeping cargo low helps ensure stability. When carrying cargo, consider that braking takes longer and that sudden braking can cause cargo to spill. 7. Don’t slide or push pallets around

The seventh step in forklift safety is to avoid sliding or pushing pallets around on the factory floor or field, a practice that can cause damage to the bottom of the pallet as well as damage to the forklift’s transmission and premature tire wear. When sliding a pallet over gravel, gravel can become stuck inside the pallet and inadvertently transported to the production area.

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