Safety First

Wayne Chornohus: Mirror, mirror, once installed - are you really safe at all?

Thursday, 22 July 2004 ( #167 )
Mirrors have the power to deceive us, to give us a false sense of security. Some companies regulate the use of mirrors and some regulatory bodies comment on their use.
When I do on-site safety audits, I watch the operators to see how they use their mirrors. If they use shoulder checks, as well as mirrors, when turning and driving in pedestrian areas, then they should be able to keep using those mirrors.
But if operators use mirrors exclusively when driving and manoeuvring, then I recommend the mirrors be removed and the operator trained to look behind. It could be said that having a mirror is an invitation for operators to be less vigilant.
A good operator uses all the tools available and understands the limitations of mirrors. The best mirror to help the operator is the wide-scale parabolic mirror, although I would like to see this product incorporate a flat mirror at the bottom as well.
Canadian regulations state that "a rear view mirror is not required on mobile equipment if the conditions of use or equipment structure make the use of mirrors impracticable". In my opinion, mirrors should be used if the view to the rear is not clear.
Most standard warehouse trucks have an unfettered view to the rear so therefore a mirror should only be considered an aid to looking behind.
I would like to thank all the individuals who commented on my last article about steering wheel knobs. The one thought that should be made clear is that steering wheel knobs should not be installed on forklifts with "kickback" style steering systems.
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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