At the beginning of each shift, your employees review the forklifts they are about to drive and make sure they are safe to operate. No matter how important the loads they will move that day may be, this routine is unquestionably important. A daily inspection gives them a chance to identify small imperfections that could turn into major problems, whether they appear that day or in the future.

When a fork truck has flaws that go unobserved, the chances of an equipment malfunction increase. And when lift trucks don't behave as expected, accidents are more likely to occur.

In addition to these inspections, a proactive maintenance plan ensures the continued safety of a fleet's vehicles. Here are some key areas to check during each inspection and include in any proactive maintenance you undertake.

Tires

First and foremost, your forklifts should be outfitted with the right tires for the job. Cold chain operation should use cold-prepped tires. Operations outdoors or on rough terrain benefit greatly from solid pneumatic tires.

Once you have right tires, they must be inflated properly. Underinflated tires can reduce forklift stability. Overinflated tires can burst under high pressure. Adjusting tire pressure is in itself a dangerous job, and only trained professionals should complete this task. When tires begin to show signs of wear, such as chunking, tears or flat spots, it's time to replace them.

Forks

Lift truck forks are built to withstand heavy loads, but that doesn't mean they're indestructible. If they have small cracks or dents, or the forks have been bent out of their original position, even slightly, they shouldn't be trusted to support a load. These imperfections may be more damaging than they initially appear. If forks give way under a heavy load, they compromise the safety of the product as well as the safety of the operator and any nearby employees.

The retaining pin and the heel of the forks should also be taken into consideration. If these aren't in good condition, fork stability will decrease.

A manager gives a forklift operator instructions.Forklift operators must ensure the lights and horns are functional before beginning their shift.

Lights and horns

Lights and horns are considered safety devices because they alert nearby workers to the movements of the truck. Light bulbs can deteriorate in time, even long-lasting LED bulbs. Dirt and debris buildup can also reduce their brightness. Bright lights are critical to the safe operation of a fork truck, especially in dark working conditions.

Horns can wear out until they're difficult to hear or not functional. If the horn can't sound during the preshift inspection, the driver should place the truck out of service until the horn can be fixed or replaced.

Create a proactive maintenance schedule

Each of these areas and many more must be properly maintained to ensure the safe operation of a lift truck. To keep track of each vehicle in your fleet, create a proactive maintenance schedule that includes inspections to avoid dangerous situations at your facility. National Maintenance Services' on-site technicians are trained in forklift maintenance and can help you implement a schedule that suits your forklift maintenance requirements. To learn about the benefits of working with a dedicated, embedded technician, contact NMS.