Posted by Thelma Marshall, VP of Solutions, July 28, 2020

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How well are you caring for your forklifts? Even though forklifts are what keep a business moving, they are often forgotten about when it comes to regular maintenance. This lack of care will cost you in several ways.

Without regular maintenance, forklifts are less efficient, more prone to breakdowns and impacts, and their drivers operate with an increased risk of injury. What’s more, as forklifts age, their hazard actually increases and hourly operational costs rise.

If that doesn’t convince you, remember that you are also required to do regular inspections and maintenance to ensure worker safety. OSHA requires vigilant daily inspections of all forklifts, including warehouse lifts, rough terrain forklifts, narrow aisle lifts, pallet jacks, and other important warehousing equipment.

The three key OSHA guidelines for forklift maintenance schedules include:

  • 29 CFR 1910.178(p)(1) – employees and employers must never knowingly drive a forklift that is known to be unsafe…in other words, a forklift that hasn’t undergone a recent inspection.
  • 29 CFR 1910.178(q)(1) – all powered industrial trucks should be removed from active use, and repairs are required to be undertaken by trained personnel. Any forklift maintenance should not be attempted by untrained employees.
  • 29 CFR 1910.178(q)(1) – forklifts should be maintained to promote a clean condition, with no noticeable grease, dust, oil and other substances.

OSHA states that forklifts should be inspected daily or if they are not used daily, at least 3-4 times per week. Thankfully, there are simple solutions to ensure compliance in your facility.

Use fleet vehicle telematics to monitor maintenance

The right telematics platform can help ensure that daily inspections occur before a vehicle is operated, that preventative maintenance happens on schedule and that driver behavior supports a long, safe lifespan for each forklift.  

This level of monitoring means

  • The entire fleet receives regular preventative maintenance, no guesswork and skipping services involved.
  • Safety checklists are completed before forklift operation or the vehicles will not start.
  • Managers receive notification about mechanical issues and can complete the repair before a vehicle is put back into operation.
  • Vehicles are locked out of operation if they failed a safety inspection and need repairs.

Make maintenance a team effort

General maintenance requirements can be on everyone’s radar. Post your inspection protocols where everyone can see them. Encourage operators to report any operational abnormalities they notice during their shift. Facilitate easy communication channels between maintenance personnel and forklift operators.

Your telematic operator-checklists should require operators to perform pre-shift inspections, identifying possible safety hazards.  

This means that: 

  • No mechanical issues exist that could impact the safety of operator or damage the forklift. 
  • Mechanical issues are documented for repairs and the truck is taken out of service (locked out) immediately.
  • Required inspections are documented, ensuring that all essential systems of the vehicle are inspected routinely and there is proof of these inspections – meeting the requirements of 

A daily or pre-shift forklift inspection should be mandatory before each truck is operated. Telematic software ensures this inspection occurs, reducing risk and documenting maintenance to prove compliance.

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