It is impossible to overstate the importance of a telehandler safety checklist. As large pieces of plant machinery, telehandlers can be extremely dangerous in the hands of an unprepared operator. As telehandlers have developed over the years, the range of functions they can perform has broadened significantly. Unfortunately, this combined with their greater presence on work sites also offers more opportunities for accidents. Every year, telehandler accidents lead to serious injuries in the workplace and on occasion fatalities for operators and more often nearby pedestrians. Apart from the human cost, this can incur financial losses for workers and construction companies. Listed below are the key points to be aware of before, during and after using a telehandler to ensure safe use.
Check for any large debris that could create an obstacle during operation and remove before work commences where possible. Look for any sloped ground, potholes or ditches that could affect stability when lifting or moving loads.
This is especially important during autumn and winter, when standing water or ice can cause vehicles to skid or tip. If your work route crosses soft ground, the weight of the telehandler and load could affect safe travel and should be considered.
Check with your supervisor that you are authorised to perform relevant tasks and make sure you are briefed on any additional issues. These could include site conditions and hazards, control measures, exclusion zones or additional task details. Check that the telehandler has been maintained properly and has a current examination report.
Operators should be familiar with the make and model of telehandler being used and its capacities and limitations. You should be trained in telehandler operation, including lifting and travelling with suspended loads and driving on public highways.
Inspect the telehandler for any damage to windows, bodywork, lights or attachments that could present risks during work. Check that tyres are in good condition and fully inflated, the manufacturer’s recommended pressure level will be stated on the tyre wall. Windows should be free of dirt and debris to allow maximum visibility all round and reduce the chance of impacts with vehicles, structures and pedestrians.
Brake fluid level should be between the two marks on the fluid reservoir and not dark in colour. Ensure hydraulic fluid levels are correct according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Finally, check that the telehandler has been fully refuelled. Any sudden stops, seizures or loss of power or braking while handling loads could be extremely dangerous.
Leaking hydraulics can have a catastrophic effect and these should be inspected carefully. Hydraulic hoses should be firmly capped and attached, properly aligned and there should be no leaks or breaks. If necessary, clean the hydraulic tank filter element and the cab air intake filter and ensure there is no debris in the lines.
Always be sure that the steering wheel is secure and the steering system is operating correctly. Service brakes and parking brakes should also be checked and if they are not operating effectively, do not use the telehandler and inform your supervisor.
Never use a telehandler without wearing your seatbelt, in the event of a crash or overturning it could save your life. Drive slowly and carefully and avoid driving on slopes whenever possible, especially with suspended loads. Suspended loads are less secure and can be prone to swinging if driving or turning at speed. This can cause the telehandler to overturn, injuring the driver, damaging the vehicle and potentially dropping heavy loads on other workers. Use a telehandler with good all-round visibility and stay alert and aware of your surroundings and other workers. Always wear well-fitting clothing and all appropriate safety gear.
Familiarise yourself with the telehandler’s limitations specified on the rating plate and the specific load charts for the model being used. These are particularly important when carrying suspended loads and the telehandler must never be overloaded.
Whenever possible erect barriers around the work area to form a pedestrian exclusion zone. However carefully you operate the telehandler, if pedestrians enter your work area unexpectedly, it puts everyone at risk. If this is not possible, make sure all other workers are aware of your travel routes and work areas to avoid accidents.
Attachments can affect the lifting capacity of the telehandler due to their own weight and can be large and cumbersome. Derating may be necessary as a result. Make sure you are familiar with the safe and efficient use of different attachments and how to change them properly.
If you are using another worker as a signaller, agree on a system of signals between you and them during work. Inform them of any details of the task being performed and ensure they stay clear of the telehandler during operation. Maintain regular eye contact with the signaller and stop work immediately if you lose sight of them.
If you need to travel on the public highway at any point, be sure that you comply with all legal requirements for telehandler road use.
After use, always park the telehandler on solid, level ground and lower the boom completely. Remove any lifting accessories. Apply the parking brake and make sure the transmission is left in neutral. Lastly, turn off the engine and remove the ignition keys before leaking the cab.
Lock the cab to prevent theft of equipment or unauthorised use and climb down facing the cab. Do not jump down from the telehandler.
SERV Plant Hire are plant and machinery hire specialists offering a huge variety of equipment for hire to the North West of England. We offer a range of market leading Manitou telehandlers, from compact models ideal for urban and indoor projects to our largest model with a lift height of 18 metres. We can also supply a variety of attachments to allow user to fully exploit the versatility telehandlers offer. Whatever your needs, contact us. We will be happy to answer any questions and ensure you have the best equipment for the job.