SAFE USE OF A FORKLIFT

Forklift training should be a top priority. Today, forklifts are used in every factory to save time while moving products. One company focused on the effective training in the use of forklifts is Flame Proof Rentals (FLP). “FLP train drivers to operate flameproof equipment on delivery of a new or rental forklift but it is the paint company that must take on the responsibility of training personnel to understand the risks,” says Herbert Chikuni, General Manager, FLP.

Herbert Chikuni answered these important questions on behalf of Coatings SA:

How does your company contribute to paint safety?

Our company, Flame Proof Rentals, train the drivers in the operation of the flameproof equipment upon delivery of a new or rental forklift. The paint company must take on the responsibility of training personnel to understand the risks involved when operating flameproof equipment. This is the responsibility of the company’s safety officer. Unfortunately, safety officers generally know little or nothing about what the requirements are and what needs to change. Our contribution is to convert equipment to make it safe and compliant for intended application.
Once the equipment arrives onsite there is absolutely no obligation in law to ensure that companies keep the equipment compliant by the end user. If on the other hand the flameproof equipment is rented, it is the rental company’s responsibility to keep the equipment in a compliant condition at all times. There are many South African paint and chemical companies that do not comply with legislation. They would rather run the risk of utilising non-compliant machinery. Ensuring paint safety comes at a sizable cost that many companies would rather evade.

What are the key aspects for factory managers to consider?

They are generally responsible in the case of an incident so they should insist on compliance by the company and ensure they are familiar with what the legislation requirements are. Also they should ensure that the operator and drivers are trained sufficiently for their requirements. They also need to understand the risks involved in the Paint flammable chemical workplace.

How do forklifts from FLP contribute to the safety in a paint manufacturing plant?

We as FLP can make known the advantages that our product possesses, but cannot enforce the use of our forklift on companies, it is the Department Of Labour’s (DOL) responsibility to enforce compliant machinery. Mobile equipment that is battery or diesel powered and operating in a flammable paint storage area or manufacturing environment must be fit for the intended purpose. SA National Standard (SANS) has codes of practice, which are disregarded by many companies. Further, forklift trucks are not the only risk, other risks include scissor lifts, floor scrubbers or sweepers and boom lifts. Since they are also battery electric powered, factories should not ignore their potential hazard. As long as this equipment is complaint, it serves a very significant purpose in the paint industry.

Does the company offer training?

Yes, we offer training, but most companies will not want us to train drivers or health and safety personnel as this will expose the risks, which could force company compliance and that is an expense that most flammable paint manufacturing companies would rather avoid. They have the perception that we are promoting safety in the workplace to grow our businesses and not to further awareness. Because of that, we received such negative responses to awareness training we put training on the back burner – especially when we got the response that they are compliant, ‘the fire department approved everything’ – they are using what the fire department says as an evasion tactic as opposed to what should be done there is no point in offering training. So it rests with the paint manufactures to enforce compliance and enforce training.

Anything else?

Yes of course, we could expose various paint manufacturers who do not comply and hide behind the fire department. Unfortunately, these companies prioritise profit over safety in the workplace and if they have a compliant forklift, they most likely only have one. Thus, if the DOL arrives or the company’s audit is done they can show the compliant truck as the only truck used in hazardous areas, which is in most cases is not true. Most trucks go into the hazardous areas. Colour zoned forklift trucks should be painted a specific colour with appropriate marking so they are immediately recognised as zoned trucks with the area classification indicated, gas group and temperature class also visibly indicated. New requirements for flame proof materials handling equipment will come into effect November 2017 and this information can be made available on request.