A key, but often overlooked, aspect of forklift safety is tire condition. On average, forklift tires carry over 9,600 pounds. Because there is no suspension on this type of material handling equipment (MHE), forklift tires absorb the entire load weight. Checking tires periodically is crucial to operator, and equipment, safety and preventing load and facility damage.
Forklift Operator Safety
When it comes to forklift tires, chunking, cracking and general wear can be problematic. Tire chunking is exactly what it sounds like. When driven repeatedly over debris, inside or outside the warehouse, pieces of rubber fall off of the tires and leave chunks missing. Instead of a smooth ride, the operator now has to deal with extra bouncing and vibration from the equipment. This can increase driver fatigue or potentially lead to other physical concerns. A driver who is less alert from jarring (and possibly frustrated) because of machinery operation is a hazard to himself and other employees. Keep your employees safe and productive by keeping tire wear in check.
Besides being unsafe for workers, worn out tires can be a danger to the load that the forklift is carrying. If the base is unstable, the load will be too! Excessive wear on one axle will change the tilt of the mast. A loss of load, or the tipping over of the machine, becomes a very real scenario at that point. The bumping and bouncing of uneven tires could cause damage as well. Protect your (or your customer’s) merchandise with tires that can do their jobs!
No owner wants to have to spend money on warehouse repairs, especially if the damage is caused by the equipment meant to make the facility run more smoothly. A lack of tread on the tires can cause the operator to lose control of the forklift. This can result in damage to door frames, racks, walls, concrete, and production machines, as well as the forklift itself.
Time, attention, and maintenance funds will save your business money in the long run by helping to reduce operator injury, protect forklift merchandise loads, and prevent facility damage. The tires of a forklift deserve just as much care as any other part of the MHE…make sure you have a predictive maintenance plan in place!