Telehandler On the Dock – #HazardSpotting

We were recently introduced to #hazardspotting on Twitter. The Hard Hat Training team has been providing safety training for over 15 years, and we have seen many hazardous situations while out on work sites around the country.

Telescoping forklifts, also known as telehandlers zoom booms or rough terrain forklifts, are crucial and common pieces of heavy machinery on many work sites. They are versatile, but need to be used with extreme caution and with proper safety procedures. Lets do a Spot the Hazard! #hazardspotting #spotthehazard #safetytraining

Can you spot the potential hazards and safety issues in this photo? Scroll down to see our own analysis.

Spot the Safety Hazards:

Telescopic Handler Hazard Training


Telehandler Hazard Analysis:

Where do we start, right? There were, in fact, several issues here, but let’s address the most obvious.

First, while it may seem like a small thing, the weather here is a problem, especially for how they are using the forklift. It’s great that one guy is wearing a hard hat, but what good is it going to do if he slips and falls into the water? Second, while it is not as obvious from the picture, this particular dock was in bad shape. Several boards showed signs of imminent failure. Never drive a telehandler over a dock, a grate, or any other surface if it has not first been load rated or if you are unsure of its load rating.  Nor should you work on docks or over water unless trained for this purpose. Here, we can rightly assume these two operators lacked sufficient training and supervision.

Second, regulations and manufacturer guidelines clearly state that in no instance should anyone ever ride on or stand on the forks or a load. It doesn’t matter if the forklift is stationary, mobile, or in the midst of lifting a load; it is a violation of safety standards and just plain dangerous. In this case, one might argue that the operator was not, in actuality, standing on the forks and, furthermore, that by placing two sheets of plywood across the forks, he was not in danger of falling. But you and I both know that is not true. Sure, he might be more stable than if balanced precariously on a wet tine, but because of the lack of fall protection and because of the stormy conditions, he is still in danger of slipping and falling into the water.

On that note, where is his fall protection? The hose he is hanging onto would not be enough to brake his fall. According to regulations, if there is no other, more plausible way to lift a worker into the air (like using a boom lift), then work platforms (also known as man baskets) can be attached to a telehandler or forklift provided the brand and capacity are approved by the manufacturer of the telescopic handler being used. Just because you have a JLG basket doesn’t mean you can use it with a JLG telehandler, unless you first get the manufacturer’s approval.

In this case, they should have used a boom lift or taken the time to properly secure an approved work platform. Then the worker should have taken the additional time to put on fall arrest gear and tie into the designated anchor point.

To be honest, despite how stupid and dangerous this is, this type of situation is something we see all of the time. There is something in our nature, it seems, that makes a game out of finding ways to get things done when we don’t have the proper tools to do it right. But that is no excuse for dangerous behavior. Take the time and even spend the money, if you have to, to do the job right and safely the first time. It sounds cliche, but lives do depend on it.


Telehandler Safety Training Materials