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Wayne Chornohus: "Let's get a handle on it!"

Thursday, 24 Jun 2004 ( #163 ) - VANCOUVER, Canada
Safety First
I wonder if jurisdictions that have outlawed forklift steering wheel knobs in the name of safety have any idea how they have contributed to increased health and safety risks?
My thesaurus says "handle" is a synonym for "knob", but I think most operators call the protuberance (another synonym) on a steering wheel a knob.
We have dealerships here in Canada removing knobs from their entire new inventory because they believe it is illegal to have this device.
Yes, it is illegal to have a knob on a car and, perhaps, in other political jurisdictions, on forklifts as well.
Here in British Columbia it is legal to have a knob on a forklift if it is the mushroom-style knob, mounted within the confines of the steering wheel.
There are several anecdotal instances of local inspectors ordering these devices be removed, even though the regulations permit.
In my opinion, every forklift with power steering should be equipped with an OEM steering wheel knob. Forklifts are often steered with one hand, as the other usually operates the hydraulic and other controls. The knob on the steering wheel allows positive control for steering.
The knob is a device that allows firm, positive control of the mechanism that controls the direction of a vehicle that operates close to people, machinery, equipment and drop-offs!
Another reason for having a knob is for manoeuvring in tight spots or situations requiring large, quick movements of the steering wheel.
I wonder why those people who think it is dangerous to have a knob on the steering wheel of a sit down counterbalance (SDCB) forklift don't order the knobs removed from reach trucks?
Wayne Chornohus is a forklift consultant with Hunter Industries Ltd. He brings more than 20 years' experience in the forklift and training industries to the community.
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