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Guidelines for Telehandler Safety

    Guidelines for Telehandler SafetyA Telehandler is like a large all-terrain forklift or loader but has a telescopic boom and three types of steering —front wheel steer, four wheel turn, or sideways steer (Crab steer). By using different attachments your Telehandler has the ability to lift, grab, dig or move materials – it is incredibly versatile. To get more from your Telehandler, you need to be conversant with Telehandler safety requirements.

    While Telehandlers are adaptable and can often reach more areas than an average forklift or truck crane, it is very important to approach each one safely. First and foremost, you must make sure the person operating the Telehandler has been trained to do so. Without competent training, a Telehandler can become a dangerous piece of equipment.

    Awareness is Key to Telehandler Safety

    As with any large machine, awareness is key to Telehandler safety. This awareness includes knowing who is going to be on the site you are working on, as well as who could potentially enter it. While a lot of Telehandlers offer a panoramic view of your surroundings, it is only your awareness that will prevent you from injuring others. You also need to be aware that the boom alongside you can obscure your direct view of that side – always check the mirrors.

    It is also necessary that the operator has good eyesight, good depth perception, and an understanding of correct hand signals. While working on a noisy site, in a noisy machine, using the correct hand signals allows you to make moves that are safe if guided from the perspective of someone who is on the ground.

    Performing Safety Inspections before Using the Telehandler

    At the beginning of each working day, you should carry out a safety inspection of the machine. This should include the usual checks you would make on a vehicle, such as examining the engine oil and water levels, but also look for signs of wear on the moving parts of the Telehandler, while paying particular attention to the wheels. Examine fittings like lights to ensure they will continue to offer good visibility, both for you and those who need to see the machine on the ground.

    Prior to moving the machine, turn the steering wheel all the way to the right then all the way to the left. Doing this charges the hydraulics. In addition to the checks you make on the Telehandler itself, perform a visual assessment of the environment around you. Look out for hazards, especially when you plan on loading and unloading heavy objects.

    Using a Telehandler Safely for Different Tasks

    Before you start make sure the Telehandler has the load chart visible and you can understand and clearly read the maximum lift heights and weights and that the machine is correctly sized for the job. If the Telehandler is a hire machine check that there is a safety instruction sheet inside the cab. This is a Health & Safety requirement for hired machinery and may have specific information on that machine eg: Pre-Start checks, Starting procedures, Operation etc… Make sure you are familiar with the cab layout and controls, test the brakes and that the boom functions smoothly.

    Before you begin lifting a load,check that the attachment is firmly locked into place and that the load is safe and balanced. If using a fork attachment check that the forks are set at the correct width. Each Telehandler requires different settings and attachments to lift loads, so make sure you follow the information in each load chart to perform a lift safely. Never exceed the safe working limits. If stabilisers are fitted always lower these and stabilize the machine before extending the boom with load.

    Beware of overhead structures, branches or power lines. (Power wires require a minimum 4 metre clearance)

    You should always remember that anything that increases momentum while you are using the Telehandler has the potential to be dangerous. Always keep the load as low as possible and tilted back towards you,but still high enough off the ground to prevent load bumping out as you move over dips. (Preferable 0.6 – 1.0m feet off the ground)

    Finally, you need to pay attention to the safety of the person driving the Telehandler. Always make sure they have their seat-belt fastened. If the Telehandler begins to tip or roll over, stay seated until it is clear that there is no risk of further movement of the machine.