According to WorkSafe Regulation 16.34, a forklift operator must complete a pre-shift inspection at their beginning of the shift.
They must immediately report any issues that affect the safe operation of the forklift to their employer or supervisor and repairs must be made before the lift truck is put into operation.
A journal must be maintained by the employer recording all inspections and must be made available upon request. These inspection forms must be kept for a minimum of 30 days. I personally would hold onto them for 90 days.
This is not meant to replace the service record for the equipment.
I always cover pre-shift inspections when I instruct my forklift operator training classes.
I like to use what I call, my brain washing technique.
I discuss the inspection throughout the theory portion and physically go over one before the practical tests are conducted.
I supply weekly or monthly forms if companies don’t already have their own. Personally I like the monthly pre-shift inspection forms; they create less paper, more environmentally conscious.
When I first started instructing forklift operator training courses, I used to hear horror stories.
I would hear about how operators were forced to use forklifts that had no brakes! Needless to say those stories involved damaged product, near misses and near tip-overs. Fortunately in those stories no one was harmed.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t operate anything that was not safe.
Back then operators used the equipment anyways for fear of losing their jobs.
Today operators can refuse to use unsafe equipment, thank goodness.
I can happily say I don’t hear those stories anymore.
Here’s what I cover during a pre-shift inspection:
- First of all, we make sure the forklift is secure. The controls are in neutral, the park brake is on and the tips of the forklift are on the ground.
- I like to start in the engine compartment while it’s cold. We check the engine oil level, the hydraulic fluid, coolant and Tranny fluid.
- We look for any obvious damage to fan belts, hoses and battery.
- For electric forklifts the battery vent caps, connector covers and cables need to be checked. Look for battery acid leaks. (Someone should be checking water levels at regular intervals.)
- Once we’re done with the engine compartment, we close it up and start the walk around.
- I start with the overhead guard and the legs of the guard. We look for cracks and more than ¾ of an inch bend or dent anywhere.
- We then look at the tires. Check that lug nuts are not loose or missing. Excessive wear – if the tires are down to 1/3 it’s time to get them changed. We look for chunks, gouges, splits, if the tires are air filled the pressure needs to be checked.
- We check the capacity plate to be sure it’s legible and the forklift is rated correctly.
- If the lift truck has one, we check the load backrest for excessive bend and damage. Give it shake to be sure it’s not loose.
- We check the condition of the forks. Make sure they’re not bent, stress cracks on the heel, we look for burrs and gouges on the surface, make sure locking pins are in place. Once forks are raised we can check for uneven forks.
- We look in the mast area at the chains for even tension. Hydraulic hoses! I really stress checking the hydraulic lines for leaks.
- Check the condition of the propane tank, the expiry date and be sure it is sitting on the forklift in the proper position.
- Then we move to the function test.
- The operator gets into the seat, with 3 points of contact of course, and puts on their seat belt (This is a must!)
- They start the engine and check instrumentation, lights, horn and backup alarm.
- Hydraulics are checked, lift, lower, tilt, side-shift and any other attachments.
- Brakes are checked, the park brake, service brake, inching brake, deadman brake, plugging.
- Check steering.
This is the gist of what we go over during a pre-shift inspection when I instruct forklift operator training courses.
Again, completing pre-shift inspections is regulation. They only take 8-10 minutes to do and well worth it for the safety of the operator and those around the equipment.
Don’t just fill in a bunch of forms when you know a WorkSafe Inspector is visiting.
This is for you and your co-workers, not just because you have to.