The importance of professional load testing and regular safety checks of forklift trucks

Criterion Equipment considers the safe operation of forklift trucks as one of the most critical aspects in materials handling in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution centres, construction sites and transport facilities.

According to specialists, it is a requirement of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) that every company or owner of lift trucks, has these machines independently load tested annually and inspected every six months.

“The consequences of failing to carry out regular load testing and safety checks are dire for company owners, especially if an accident involving a forklift truck occurs. To ensure that pristine safety standards are maintained on site and to protect the well-being of workers, it is mandatory that professional examinations are carried out to identify defects in lifting equipment,” explains Brenton Kemp, Managing Director, Criterion Equipment. “We advise all our customers to abide by stringent legal requirements, to ensure every machine is regularly load tested and safety checked. Users need to be aware that where a load certificate has expired, it is illegal to use the uncertified forklift truck.

“Although Criterion Equipment does not conduct load testing services inhouse, our team works closely with accredited Lifting Machine Entities (LME) that offer independent inspection, testing and certification services.

“We believe it is essential for lift truck owners to ensure the company they appoint to carry out load testing, is accredited with the Department of Labour as a Lifting Machine Entity and that the Lifting Machinery Inspector (LMI) performing the load test is also certified with the relevant authorities.

“Every load test must be done in accordance with SANS 10388 (inspection, test and examination of lift trucks) and performed at 110% of the rated capacity of the machine.”

In terms of South African regulations, numerous components and parts need to be examined and reported on.There are many factors that inspectors look out for, including carriage wear, stretched chains, forks with heel wear cracks, bent mast channels, worn tyres and malfunctioning safety devices.

Professional examinations include testing the brakes, limiting features and other safety equipment without a load and preparing test weights in accordance with the forklift’s maximum load specifications. These test weights are then loaded onto the forklift for dynamic or static assessment. A written report is prepared indicating whether or not the machine is compliant and safe for use. It is important that all records of accreditation are filed for future audit purposes and Department of Labour (DOL) inspections.

Thorough load testing not only indicates the safe handling load of each machine, which enhances safety on site, but also testing also facilitates maintenance planning and effective budget management.

Apart from annual independent load testing, Criterion Equipment advises customers to maintain high safety standards, by implementing a regular inhouse maintenance programme, which encompasses daily checks, to keep lift trucks in a safe working condition. Statistics show that ignorance of lift truck safety rules, results in damages, injuries and fatalities, which is why it is important to ensure that operators are kept abreast of safety requirements and have the correct licence code for the equipment being used.

Criterion Equipment – the sole distributor of TCM forklift trucks in South Africa – works closely with its broad customer base by offering a technical advisory, spare parts, repair and maintenance service.

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