Aftermarket products make forklift operation even safer. PHOTO: CAT LIFT TRUCK
continues the focus on safety products, highlighting some offerings designed to save lives and ensure more secure workplaces.
As we reported last week
, forklift buyers and fleet managers are more aware than ever about their obligations to provide equipment that is fit for purpose and safe to use. This has raised the safety standards of new forklifts - both in their standard equipment inclusions and through safety options available from the factory.
But it's not just new equipment that needs to be safe to operate, and a number of aftermarket options are available to retrofit.
Forkliftaction spoke to a number of solutions providers to find out about the needs they address and the products and services they are offering.
Light 'em up
Panacea's Arc Light creates a seamless mobile warning area
Don Martindale, CEO of Canadian safety products distributor Panacea Aftermarket, sees the avoidance of collisions between a moving forklift and pedestrians as the area of most concern among his dealers. "We all know who will win that battle: the horrific results are just brutal," he says.
Martindale warns that the most common warning system to avoid these accidents - audible alarms - are losing their effectiveness because forklifts operate in noisy environments and also because the human brain is conditioned to eventually ignore repetitive sounds.
Visual warnings, on the other hand, are harder to miss and ignore.
Martindale cites his company's innovative Arc Light as one of the most effective warning options. "It creates a huge U-shaped line around the back and sides of the forklift," he explains, adding that when paired with Panacea's redesigned red zone lights, the system forms a "seamless mobile warning area" behind, on the sides, and in front of the truck.
Tilman Linn, head of marketing for German components wholesaler J.Führ, is seeing a rise in interest in "indirect safety for people and equipment in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle".
J.Führ's Arc Light can be combined with sound warnings
"Many vehicle-based safety concepts are strongly focused on the immediate environment, so warning lights still play a major role. However, conventional rotating beacons, which can only give relatively diffuse warnings, are losing importance," he explains.
Linn says the focus in recent years has shifted towards precise warning lights and zone lights that alert passers-by very specifically of an approaching danger. This process started with the BlueSpot spotlight, which has become standard, but other efficient options are now available, such as the projection of warning lines or larger warning areas around the vehicle.
Linn highlights a relatively new class of warning zone lights which effectively mark the danger zone moving with the vehicle and thus ensure that a moving source of danger is detected at an early stage, guaranteeing that a safe distance can be maintained at all times. "This is of imminent importance, especially in the often-confusing warehouse operation," he adds.
Contrary to Martindale's view on sound emitters, Linn believes they still play an important role, especially with quieter electric vehicles, whose marketshare is growing rapidly.
Combining light and sound warnings heightens the warning effect, he stresses.
Strap 'em in
Warehouse Design's new harness design greatly reduces injury risk
Harnesses are often used for fall protection, especially with man-up lifts and aerial work platforms, and while the existing products on the market may stop falls, David King, president of Warehouse Design, warns that they may not actually save lives.
"The industry standard harness can apply significant pressure to the femoral arteries, resulting in blood clots and/or unconsciousness," he points out. "Although you have initially saved the person's life, they may still experience injury."
Warehouse Design is promoting a new harness design as a significant advance in technology that greatly reduces - if not eliminates - this risk by allowing body weight to be more evenly distributed during a fall. "This new harness also allows more time for proper rescue," he adds.
In addition to being 99% metal-free (and therefore more virus-resistant), the design is more ergonomic and reduces fatigue during wearing.
Best of all, the harness is highly visible. "There can be no doubt from safety management that the harness is being worn even when operation is high up," he insists.
Control their access
Start-Manager controls access to equipment
Employers need to demonstrate that their employees have the proper training to allow them to do their job safely, says David Leduc, sales manager of Start-Manager. "That is why unauthorised use of equipment and machines can become a huge safety concern." He notes the challenge of ensuring that only appropriately trained staff can operate equipment.
That's where access control comes into play. Systems like Start-Manager require a key-code or proximity card before staff can operate the forklift. "This allows employers to control exactly who has access to every forklift and machine to ensure that only properly trained individuals can use them. The Start-Manager system completely replaces the key with built-in relays and start/stop buttons."
Additionally, OSHA requires that all forklifts be examined at least daily before being placed in service. The Start-Manager system can be used to disable any unchecked equipment.
"With Start-Manager's wireless reporting feature, employers can also collect and sort all of their safety check reports at a push of a button. Information is securely sent via your existing wi-fi connection to our secure server, and there are never any additional monthly fees," he explains.
Monitor the environment
Seen Safety uses selective detection
Michael Scott, CEO of New Zealand-based Seen Safety, describes forklifts as the most dangerous form of workplace equipment.
Furthermore, he cites experts around the world rejecting passive safety controls such as high-vis vests or warning alarms as ineffective "because people still make mistakes". This, he says, is prompting health and safety and operations managers to identify more active solutions to materially reduce the risk to their staff and better meet the regulatory demands.
Seen Safety's solution falls into the category of selective detection and is designed to only alarm when a particular item of interest is detected (for example, people or tagged objects) and ignore everything else. This means alarms are less frequent, highly relevant, and therefore more likely to be noticed and acted upon.
Seen Safety's new IRIS 860 LIDAR sensor actively, and selectively, detects reflective tape on high-vis safety apparel, transforming passive tags into part of an active pedestrian alert system for forklifts and other mobile plant.
"Selective detection sensors are great at detection and warning, but when it comes to evidential analysis, and accident prediction and prevention, data is king," he notes. To assist with this, Seen Safety is currently developing a smart camera clip-on module which will automatically upload information about an event to the Cloud, including time and date stamp, a still image, detection position and distance, and the machine and sensor ID.
Intella is the exclusive North American distributor for the Safe&Stop and Safe&Alert products
For Michigan-based Intella Liftparts, a subsidiary of Dutch parts giant VanGent Forklift Parts, also trading as OrangeParts, safety products were very much in demand until COVID-19 "sort of displaced this as a pressing safety issue", says Marcel VandenTop, president and general manager.
"Customers want to avoid pedestrian accidents. Years ago, our industry spent time and resources going after product damage. In reality, most end-users can tolerate some product damage by even very good employees. They have zero tolerance, however, when it comes to pedestrian accidents and people getting hurt," he says.
Intella recently partnered with CyPag from Italy and is now the exclusive North American distributor for the Safe&Stop and Safe&Alert products.
"Basically, they are 'forklift radar' systems which detect objects and slow down the forklift," says VandenTop.
Safe&Alert works like the parking alerts of motor cars, detecting the presence of obstacles when the forklift reverses. This triggers visual and acoustic feedback, alerting the operator about the risk.
When the sensor, placed on the rear part of the vehicle, detects an obstacle, Safe&Stop uses the same detection technology, but in addition to the alarms, the system can automatically reduce the speed of the vehicle, greatly reducing the risk of collision.
"The units have been very popular with companies which have had accidents in their recent past but need an affordable solution," he says, adding that the solutions can be retrofitted for less than USD3,000 per forklift.
Forklift Safety Solution distributes the SIS range of safety solutions
Also promoting the benefits of active solutions is Phil Rigby, managing director of Forklift Safety Solutions in Staffordshire, the UK and Ireland distributor for the SIS range of safety solutions.
"Passive systems such as acoustic warnings, camera systems and fleet management systems certainly have a role to play in increasing awareness and overall safety. However, we have noticed a trend recently where end-users are looking for a more proactive solution in eliminating danger to staff and reducing stock damages," he says, citing SIS's Safe & Stop system as the "go-to device for counterbalance trucks".
The Safe & Stop reversing and manoeuvring aid is an active system which automatically slows down and stops forklifts, preventing collisions with people, stock or structures - without the need for a tag system.
"This helps reduce the risk of human error and carelessness and proactively reduces the risk of danger and gives our customers enormous peace of mind, knowing that their staff can concentrate on the task at hand, safely, efficiently and productively," he says.
"The innovative use of ultrasonic technology in this field enables us to guarantee the highest reliability standards in terms of response time."
Another feature of the SIS Safe & Stop system that is particularly appealing to customers is the flexibility and customisation of the system. "Once we have a clear understanding of the customer's unique requirements, we can set the system exactly to our customer's needs. The rear sensor can be set to detect up to a distance of 4 m and the side sensors up to a maximum of 1.5 m to ensure productivity and safety. The customer can also choose the slow-down speeds and choose whether they prefer a double slow down or a slow down and stop," he adds.
Keeping the wheels turning
RES Xtreme tyre
Darren Stratton, product management director - material handling for tyre maker Camso, says his company works closely with OEMs to develop safe, reliable and value-added solutions to equip their machines.
"Collaborating with OEMs is one piece of the puzzle: listening to our customers working in various segments, from warehousing to the paper industry, ports and airport ground handling equipment, is also part of the equation," he adds, citing Camso's non-marking anti-static technology which came from discussions with a client working in the paper industry. "They experienced static issues on their equipment which posed several risks to the facility and operators when their forklifts were running on non-marking tyres. Because non-marking tyres don't use carbon black, the tyres cannot transfer static electricity to ground, leading to static build-up in the forklifts and safety hazards during uncontrolled discharge."
Stratton says tyre wear is among the top safety issues for the industry. "We put a lot of emphasis on operator, technician and dealer education to help reduce the risks linked to running on worn tyres. What damage to look out for, how to assess tyre wear, what are the dangers and safety issues linked to over-worn tyres. In the last months, we developed online educational tools including a free video series as well as a pro tips article to help users identify signs of wear and to share some maintenance tips for maximal life," he says.
Although much of the safety attention is currently directed at social distancing and avoiding the spread of COVID-19, it is clear that the focus will inevitably return to routine forklift safety and that equipment buyers and fleet managers will again need to ensure their fleets are safe for operators, pedestrians and the goods and infrastructure around them.
The diversity of safety solutions in the market addresses a myriad of needs - and many of them work both in isolation and in conjunction with others. But with the continuing focus on safety, it is important to apply a systematic and cohesive approach which spans hardware, software, training, monitoring and data analysis in a comprehensive view. As the UK Forklift Truck Association (FLTA) advises its members, safe trucks are just one aspect of overall forklift safety: organisations also need to ensure safe management, safe operators and safe sites.
Additional information and a special 'THANK YOU' to our contributors:
One stop shopping for your vehicle lighting
J. Fuehr GmbH: website
An engineered solution to the hazards of static build-up in non-marking forklift tires
Camso Inc: website
New Generation Fall Protection for the Material Handling Industry
Warehouse Design Inc: website
The Safe & Stop system from Intella Liftparts
Intella Liftparts: website
Pedestrian Detection Sensors from SEEN Safety
SEEN Safety Ltd: website
Finally an affordable material handling monitoring system
Start-Manager Inc: website
Panacea Aftermarket Co: website
Forklift Safety Solutions: website