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Is your forklift’s parking space a safe place?

At the end of a shift, the operator should shut down the forklift safely (tips on the ground, handbrake on, in neutral) and put the keys in a safe place. But how do you decide where to park your forklift? We’ve seen forklifts parked in all kinds of odd places, sometimes with the forks at shin height (ouch!) and with the keys left in. It’s easy to create a safety problem by parking it in the wrong place, so let’s look at all the wrong places you can choose.

  • Blocking any exit, including emergency exits, or in a place that prevents a gate being opened
  • Blocking a passageway, even if it’s just part of the forklift that does this
  • On a ramp or an incline – the handbrake could fail, it could tip over and there are risks if left outside that a ramp could become slippery if wet or icy. If the only place you have is on a ramp, chock the wheels
  • In a refuelling area – refuelling areas are just for refuelling
  • Where other vehicles need to drive around it
  • Where other vehicles may come into contact with it. A common mistake here is parking it next to rubbish bins, dumpsters or skips when a rubbish truck needs to collect from them
  • Next to a first aid station
  • Next to a heat source – open fire, a source of ignition, etc
  • Right next to a wall – this increases the risk of damaging the forklift because of rear-end swing. Leave at least 50cm gap.

Choosing a safe space to park your forklift

Mark a safe space on your warehouse floor or in your yard or put a sign up next to the parking space so that people don’t leave other goods or materials there.

It’s much better for your forklift if you can park it indoors overnight or in bad weather.

Any parking space should leave the forklift easy to access by an operator without climbing in the side with the control levers.

If you are locking the keys away overnight or between shifts (a good idea), don’t make the lockbox too far from the forklift parking space.

Examples of parking

The organisation is a bit random and there’s no obvious marking, but at least all these walkies are clustered in the same place and not on the pedestrian walkway

Order pickers are aligned facing the wall while they are charging. This is an obvious and tidy place for them and is well out of the way of other operations

Maintenance zone – forklifts should not be left parked here unless they need work done on them

Opportunistic parking spot which does hide the forks, but it’s not a marked spot. If this is the only forklift in the yard, this spot is OK because no other forklift will be moving pallets around it. The operator can simply reverse straight, avoiding any problems with rear-end swing

Remember that a forklift is technically unattended once you are 7.6m away from it.

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Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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