What safety features can you expect to find on the modern forklift truck, and more importantly, how can you ensure these features are employed correctly?

If you took a forklift truck today and compared it with one of its predecessors from even just a few years ago, the difference would be astonishing. These workhorses of the factory and warehouse are highly engineered pieces of machinery and are designed with every conceivable safety feature ­­–some have such slick features and functionality that they would put many a low-end automotive cousin to shame.

Yet however advanced the safety features, they are worth little if they aren’t employed correctly–or indeed, at all. If the drivers know how to get around the pseed restriction or the power cut-out, for example, then it’s questionable how much value that particular feature has to the machine, or to the business in which it operates.

Designs change rapidly in this market: if you haven’t given forklift trucks more than a cursory glance in the past couple of years, it’s likely that you will be surprised by the level of sophisticated safety options on offer.

It’s clear to even an unseasoned observer that safety features are essential on the modern day forklift truck. After all, on its own, a truck is a heavyweight piece of moving machinery with the inherent dangers that this type of kit brings – but add a couple of tonnes of load, and safe operation becomes all the more vital. Thankfully, few factory or warehouse managers need convincing of this.

Ultimately, however good the equipment or vehicle might be, good performance and safety depends on the human element and nothing involving human endeavour is totally risk free.

4K’s David Scammell says that focusing soley on safety features is addressing the problem from the wrong end. It’s the driver that needs attention, not the vehicle, he says:

“Accidents are caused, on the whole, by human error. Occasionally things go wrong, machines break and mishaps happen, but that’s pretty rare and it’s why we have preventative maintenance packages. Operators, on the other hand, are not machines. We can influence behaviour to reduce damage and never accept that safety is at an ‘acceptable’ level.”

That’s means, He says, that it’s the basic operating procedures that are being broken and it’s practice, horseplay and human error that are largely to blame.

“We already know that operators are the most expensive components of any materials handling system. Training and coaching them to work more effectively is a proven money-saver…Train and invest in operators and they will reduce damage and raise productivity.”