Accidents resulting in equipment and workplace damage not only eat into your bottom line, but also undermine the general safety of your operation and anyone who works with materials handling equipment. When it comes to obtaining optimum performance from your forklift fleet and keeping maintenance costs down, never underestimate the role of the truck operator. Your rental contract does not cover damage caused by careless drivers, so it’s vital that they respect their equipment. Operators should only use a forklift to carry out the tasks it is designed to do. It’s also vital that drivers conduct daily safety checks, work to proper procedures and operate equipment in a suitable environment. Getting the job done as quickly as possible is not the answer. Drivers need to appreciate that, whatever time pressures they may be under, shortcuts are not acceptable. Checking the truck over and looking for potential faults – in accordance with the relevant equipment checklist – must be part of their daily routine. Overloading, driving with an elevated load, forgoing PPE and complacency when parking all involve risks to driver safety which, in turn, can compromise your business operation. If truck drivers adopt the right attitude, however, they can make a tangible difference. Careful driving gets more work hours out of a battery and leads to improved fuel efficiency, for example, which means better productivity. And drivers who communicate well set a good example. Not only do they help to avoid accidents, reducing the potential for unexpected repair bills, but they also play a key role in changing your company culture for the better. Untrained drivers and unsafe working practices are the root cause of most accidents. However, a sizeable proportion arise during interaction with third parties, so forklift drivers must be especially vigilant when lorries are loading/unloading on site. Two of the most common causes of damage occur at the loading dock. If a lorry pulls away as a truck is about to drive inside, the forklift sustains damage as it either falls out of the lorry or off the end of the loading dock. The truck operator is also likely to be injured. The forklift driver should take the initiative in these circumstances and signal clearly that it is OK for the lorry driver to move off. Of course, even the most experienced drivers can slip into bad habits. Parts wear prematurely as a result of poor practice resulting in costly repair bills that impact on the total cost of ownership of your forklift fleet. Thanks to technology, fleet managers can calculate machine damage. But, factor in damaged stock, broken racking and other site damage, and the real cost to your business starts to mount up. Expert training will raise awareness of the risks and the kind of practices that can lead to equipment damage. Coupled with policies and incentives that value truck operators, it can bring about an emphatic change in behaviour. Get the best out of your forklift drivers and your business will reap the rewards in more ways than one.
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