It’s no accident that some logistics businesses are safer and more productive than others.Forklift action.com recently reported on a forklift-related death in Singapore:
The Indian national was standing on the rear counterweight of a forklift while tying an electrical cable onto the side of an overhead beam when the forklift moved backwards suddenly.
He was caught between the forklift’s canopy and the beam and was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, where he later died. –Forkliftaction.com
This tragic incident is being investigated, but if the reported circumstances of the accident are to be believed the staff member was using the forklift in an extremely risky manner for a purpose for which it wasn’t intended. That would make it difficult to simply fault the equipment as responsible for the accident, the more likely culprit being the work environment and culture in which the employee felt it was acceptable to climb on top of the forklift and use it for that fatal purpose.
So while the forklift itself may ultimately not have been responsible for the accident, the right workplace safety culture and technology would certainly have been able to help prevent it.
Safe Habits Make for Safe Workplaces
Although bad habits seem to occur far too easily, good workplace habits have to be nurtured carefully through considered safety procedures that are regularly and repeatedly monitored. Careful examination of the daily work tasks, equipment being used, and the work environment allows you to take the first steps in creating training, shift start procedures and equipment maintenance policies that make your workplace safer. The major challenge here is maintaining and regularly monitoring those habit-making policies to foster a safety-focused work culture. This is where technology can greatly assist you.
Getting Started Safely
Hopefully your equipment operators are aware of the condition of vehicles and the work environment as they start each shift. But it’s all too easy for a forklift operator who used a vehicle yesterday to just assume that it’s in the same condition for today’s shift, despite the vehicle being potentially used for another 16 hours by other operators in the intervening period.
So, to be safe, you’ll want to create a shift start checklist that includes at the very least some key vehicle inspection items but possibly also a few personal operator checks. Think: I have my safety hat, vest and gloves. Check.
Users of the VIA Mobile360 Forklift Safety System can get a time-saving assist on the technology side from having their checklists in the WorkX mobile app. That means who performed the shift start inspection has been confirmed, when they performed it, as the inspection is time-stamped, and after just a few taps the inspection is completed and filed/stored automatically in the VIA WorkX Connect Cloud Management Service.
In addition to speeding up the inspection process, the technology also helps with the codification and repetitive monitoring of this start-of-shift safety routine on a daily basis. Due to often complex scheduling and employee volumes it is likely almost impossible for the floor manager to accompany and monitor every operator’s shift start. However, the occasional personal floor manager visit at the shift start to review the procedure together with the employee will go a long way to reinforcing the company’s commitment to safety.
Training & Practice
Lionel Messi is a naturally gifted footballer, but he wouldn’t be the truly world-class player that he’s known to be without the hours of training and practice he’s continually put in. Your forklift operators can further hone their skills and confidence in performing tasks with regular practice too.
Confidence and experience come with time but also with repetition. There may be specific maneuvers that forklift operators perform a hundred times a shift and other more risky ones they only rarely encounter. By building in regular training and practice routines that include all the different maneuvers you would like your drivers to be highly skilled at performing you can improve their abilities and reduce risk when performing that rare difficult maneuver.
Much like your shift start checklists you can create training and practice checklists as well and decide how frequently you want to implement them. One idea is to include just a few quick maneuvers to practice with every day at the end of the shift as a way to “sign-out”. This might interfere less with your productivity goals and spread the training time over the week.
Once again, users of the VIA Mobile360 Forklift Safety System can get a time saving assist on the technology side from having their practice checklists in the VIA WorkX mobile app. You’ll know how often training was performed and a few simple taps make it fast and easy for drivers to update the information and store it automatically in the VIA WorkX Connect Cloud Management Service.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
Across the web at iVT (Industrial Vehicle Technology) International they’ve published a July feature item discussing the challenges and differences between generations in fostering work safety culture.
It all comes down to people themselves, said Vandervert, and how they’re managed. With so many generations in the workforce right now, managing them effectively is a task that’s easier said than done. -Safety culture and generational differences
We couldn’t agree more. As we’ve discussed before, some generations will embrace a technological approach more than others.
Don’t ever underestimate your staff’s desire to learn or be using the latest technologies. Particularly with younger staff that have grown up with the internet and smartphones. Even if they haven’t said it, they are probably already thinking that antiquated paperwork approaches to inspections and reports, for example, is a big waste of their time. –A Connected Forklift Safety System Helps Retain Valuable Staff
Technology won’t replace good solid safety procedures and policies but it can certainly make it easier and faster for your operators and managers to execute and track these procedures and policies more consistently. That consistency is what will help your team develop the good habits that lead to a culture of workplace safety.