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Safety at forklift dealerships

Friday, November 11, 2016

You would think that forklift dealerships would be pinnacles of forklift safety, examples for those in the industry to follow. It is fine to think that, but many times that is not the case. Forklift dealers, as a whole, typically have higher rates for injuries from forklifts, even though they have a lot of knowledge of the equipment. As with any industry, you will find locations that are very safety conscious and those who are not. Here are a few quick questions to check the status of your overall dealership’s commitment to safety:

1) Have you certified each and every road and shop technician, specific to all the types of lifts they will be operating?
2) Are your aftermarket and equipment sales people certified to operate any lift types they will be using in the field? (Examples: demos, testing out a unit for a customer, showing how features are used, etc.)
3) How often do you conduct safety audits, both of your people on the road and at your dealership? Are those conducting the safety inspections highly qualified?
4) Do you have an active safety committee or team? Are they making a real difference in reducing injuries and removing hazards?
5) Do your employees abide by general forklift safety rules? (Examples: Do they wear seatbelts and fall protection when required? Do they set parking brakes? Do they operate lift functions when not seated in the seat of the forklift, etc.?)

If you did well on this list, then you are probably in the top tier of dealerships and should be very proud of yourselves. If you did not do so well, then you should be asking yourself some questions. Are we too busy to pay attention to safety? Is safety too costly or too much of a hassle? The vast majority of forklift dealerships care a lot about the safety of their employees, but the failure to plan, implement and monitor safety closely makes me think of the old saying “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.” If you feel that additional improvement is needed, I would suggest hiring a local, unbiased and professional safety consultant to do a walk thru of your facility and audit your field operations, in order to get an honest and expert opinion from which to build on. Set a safety example for other dealerships and your customers to follow.

Brian Colburn of Forklift Training Systems, provider of forklift safety training and materials, can be reached at 614-583-5749 or