Forklifts are an essential piece of equipment at construction sites, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and much more. They are an efficient way to move products around a building, they can travel both indoors and out, and they are quite rugged so they can be used in almost any environment.
Many tools exist to ensure forklifts operate safely and efficiently. For example, safety signs can warn people of the presence of a forklift. Safety labels inside the forklift itself can remind drivers to put on their seatbelts. One of the most important things for operating a forklift in any area is floor marking.
In addition to safety, it is also important to make sure the forklifts operate as efficiently as possible. People throughout a facility or worksite rely on the items these vehicles deliver. Using visual safety strategies, it is possible to dramatically improve the way a forklift travels.
Floor Markings for Forklift Safety
Whenever using any type of machinery, it is critical to make sure safety is the primary goal. This is especially true for forklifts because they have so much potential for accidents and injuries. The following are some of the many risks associated with forklifts:
- Tip Overs - If a forklift is overloaded, it can tip over, causing serious injury to the forklift operator as well as the people in the area.
- Hitting a Pedestrian – Forklift operators often have an obstructed view of the area around them because of the load they are carrying. This puts pedestrians in the area at serious risk.
- Bumping Objects - When driving or loading a forklift, it is important to make sure the vehicle (and the forks) doesn’t bump shelving or other objects. This could cause them to fall over, which is a very serious risk.
- Ledges – At 97dB someone can be exposed to the sound for up to three hours without hearing protection.
- 100dB - 100dB is only safe for about two hours, according to OSHA.
- 102dB – When operating near a ledge, which is common with forklifts, it is possible to roll the vehicle over if the driver is not especially careful.
These are just a few of the many risks commonly associated with forklifts. You can see ten types of accidents involving forklifts caught on video here:
It is clear there are many risks associated with forklifts. Using floor markings can dramatically reduce the risks when done correctly.
Forklifts travel up and down aisles all the time, putting things on shelves, taking other things down, and bringing items where they need to go. Floor marking tape can provide a clear indication of where the aisle ends so the forklift operator does not accidently cross over it and potentially knock the shelving over.
In addition to making sure the forklift drivers avoid getting too close to the shelves, floor marking tape also lets others know not to let any items on the shelves stick out too far. If something is sticking out past the floor markings, it is a hazard for the forklift drivers and needs to be fixed.
Managing the Flow of Traffic
When multiple forklifts (or other vehicles) operate in one facility, it is critical to manage the flow of traffic. Just like on a normal road, floor markings can let everyone know which way they should be traveling, when they need to stop, which direction of traffic has the right of way, and much more.
There are even floor marking signs such as stop signs, yield signs, and speed limit signs. Having these items on the floor helps ensure forklift operators and others in the facility can easily see them.
Keeping Pedestrians Out
Having floor marking signs that alert pedestrians to the presence of a forklift can significantly reduce the risk of an accident. When people can see that pedestrians should not be walking in the area, they are much more likely to use the designated walking zones. Anything a facility can do to keep forklifts and pedestrians away from each other will help improve safety quite significantly.
Alerting Operators to Hazards
If a facility or worksite has specific hazards, it is important to make sure the forklift drivers are aware of them well before they get too close. Putting floor markings several feet (or more) around a hazard can ensure the operator has plenty of time to react properly.
Hazards often found in areas where forklifts are in use include ledges, containers with hazardous materials, gas tanks, load-bearing supports, and unstable ground. Using highly visible or even reflective floor marking tape around these hazards can prevent serious accidents or injuries.
While all floor markings are a type of visual communication, certain types of floor marking tape can actually improve visibility. Facilities that have areas with low lighting can benefit from applying reflective or glow-in-the-dark floor marking tape. This will allow the forklift operators to see where they are going even in low-light areas.
Even when there is plenty of light in a normal situation, having reflective or glow-in-the-dark floor marking tape can be extremely helpful in emergency situations. If the power goes out, this type of tape will be easily visible and can be used to highlight a path toward the nearest exit or other safety zone.
Floor Markings for Forklift Efficiency
In addition to helping keep a facility safer, floor markings can help forklift operators do their jobs more efficiently. Implementing a good floor marking strategy can prevent downtime, keep forklifts traveling as quickly (but safely) as possible, and generally eliminate waste in the facility.
Establishing Efficient Routes
In most facilities, forklifts travel the same or similar paths over and over again throughout the day to get products or parts where they need to be. When this is the case, floor markings can be put down to identify the most efficient route possible for these vehicles to take. By establishing a procedure to follow the pre-set routes, the forklift operators will be able to get their jobs done much more efficiently than would otherwise be possible.
Segmenting a Facility
Many warehouses and other facilities are very large, so it can become difficult to find the exact location where someone needs to go. Using floor markings to segment the facility can help everyone find what they are looking for.
Facilities can use red floor marking tape for one area, blue for another, green for a third, and so on. Then when someone needs to dispatch a forklift, they can simply instruct the driver to go to the green area, aisle four, or something to that effect. The facility can make as many different segments as are needed to ensure everyone is able to easily find their destination.
Identifying Parking Spaces
If a facility has lots of forklifts and other vehicles, having them parked in an organized way when not in use is very important. Many facilities have a set spot for each vehicle so the operators know exactly where they need to go to get the vehicle they need. Using floor markings to identify parking spaces in the facility can go a long way toward keeping everything in its place.
Safety = Efficiency
The safety improvements listed above are great for keeping the facility safe, but they also do a great job of improving efficiency. Any type of accident in a facility will result in a work stoppage, and if someone is injured, he or she may not be able to work until they are healed. These problems are in addition to the monetary losses from damage, medical expenses, and more.
Implementing the safety standards listed above will have a positive impact on the overall efficiency of the facility as well. Floor markings are an excellent way to improve safety, and therefore efficiency, in any facility.
Identify Where Inventory Goes
When forklifts are bringing inventory throughout the facility, they need to know exactly where it should be put down. Floor marking tape can be used to mark off squares for pallets so the operators can put each one exactly where it needs to go. Having pallets organized will ensure there is plenty of room for the entire inventory.
The same concept can be applied to putting items up on shelving. Each forklift load should be placed in as straight and even a line on the shelves as possible. Having floor markings to indicate how the forklift operator should line up the vehicle with the shelf can be helpful.
Planning and Implementing a Successful Floor Marking Strategy
Facilities that are able to plan out and implement a successful floor marking strategy are able to dramatically improve overall safety while also improving efficiency. These are two of the most important items for the success of any business. Floor markings are also very affordable and easy to implement, which makes them a good solution for many workplaces.