A forklift is the primary solution for jobs that require stacking pallets or moving pallets of supplies and equipment. Similarly, if you have a job that requires lifting and moving heavy mechanical parts, you are already thinking of renting a forklift. From lifting skids packed with lumber to lifting and adjusting the position of a railway storage container, a forklift can transform an impossible job into something easy. That said, there are many things a novice driver must consider to ensure safe operation of the forklift and a safe work environment for people and property.
- Costs versus experience
The easiest thing to understand about renting a forklift is that it can be expensive. For instance, renting one for the day can total a few hundred dollars. Renting one for a week might seem prohibitive. However, if you are not experienced, you can expect your job to take two or three times longer than you anticipate. Part of the reason resides in the fact that an inexperienced driver will be less precise. Simple things like turning and stacking take a long time. Consequently, if you think something should take a day to complete, you need to rent it for two days. Not doing so will result in a hurried job. Hurrying with a forklift can result in disaster.
- Center of gravity
The center of gravity helps keep a forklift from tipping. If you attempt to lift a load that is too much for the forklift, you can experience tipping. Additionally, if you attempt to lift a load that is very tall, you can end up with the entire load crashing to the ground. When lifting any load, you need to ensure you are lifting the smallest amount possible to the least height possible. Doing so will help an inexperienced driver remain safe. In instances when you are in doubt about a forklift hire or rental, you might want to consider what is known as a wet hire. This simply involves hiring a professional driver to do the job. Doing so will help you save money and time, and it will keep your property and you safe.
Another thing to consider when lifting a load is that you need to have the forks as far beneath the load as possible. Doing so will tighten the center of gravity. If you have just the tips of the forks lifting the load, you widen the center of gravity, which can lead to the entire forklift tipping over.
Some forklifts are designed for indoor jobs. Some are designed for outdoor jobs. For outdoor work, you need to ensure to rent one with the right tires and engine.
A forklift can accelerate quickly, and this ability is something that can catch a novice off guard. Consequently, you will need to practice driving the forklift prior to actually lifting anything with it. Even if you are a trained driver, you need to familiarize yourself with a forklift prior to starting a job. Not doing so can result in too much speed, which can pitch the forklift in one direction, causing the entire load to fall in the opposite direction.
Speed can also be a factor when you are maneuvering corners. For instance, a forklift can fit into very tight spaces, so you do not want to accelerate in these situations. Instead, you need to have a tremendous amount of patience and control on the accelerator in order to not bump into something.
Driving a forklift involves you understanding how to steer. This might sound obvious, but a forklift often feels as if you are steering in reverse. In order to remain safe, you must steer in a clockwise or counter-clockwise method because driving a forklift is analogous to driving a car in reverse.
For instance, the forklift will turn clockwise if you turn the wheel clockwise. If you turn it counter-clockwise, the forklift will turn counter-clockwise. This is different than a standard vehicle, which turns left if you turn the wheel left and right if you turn the wheel right.
Another thing to consider is that some forklifts have a joystick instead of a steering wheel. This simple change in components can create a lot of problems if you do not practice driving before lifting loads.