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Frazer-Nash developed, on behalf of the HSE, a model of a forklift that was used to simulate a truck performing steering manoeuvres at speed, to show whether a it would be stable throughout a manoeuvre and how easily it could roll onto its side.

The tests involved examining the character and performance of tyres while performing a range of manoeuvres. These manoeuvres covered a range of speeds, steering patterns, loads on the forks and heights of the load. Computer simulations were performed for all cases for which there was measured data.

The report says that across Europe in general there are about 100 deaths a year involving forklift trucks and a number of these cases involve forklifts tipping over while in motion.

The HSE says it has already made changes to the regulations governing the design of forklift trucks. These include the installation of roll protection systems and the insistence on seat belts being worn by the drivers, to reduce the potential injury in the event of a roll-over.

Manufacturers have introduced a number of innovations to make forklift operations safer. One of the most basic steps is to stop unqualified people from jumping into a lift truck and most manufacturers now have some kind of device to restrict access to qualified drivers only. Providing a comfortable working environment which is well designed from an ergonomic point of view is also an aid to safety.

There are some hi-tech systems now in operation to improve the stability of the vehicle. For example Toyota SAS is an electronic system that automatically monitors and controls over 3,000 key forklift functions. This concept took more than two years to develop with a team of more than 30 engineers and it is protected by 126 Toyota patents.

Toyota SAS is based on three types of components: an electronic controller, 10 sensors and 3 actuators. SAS controller gathers information from the sensors and calculates whether the forklift is in a potentially dangerous situation or not, and accordingly activates one or more actuators.

A side tip-over happens when the position of the centre of gravity of the forklift moves sideways, out of the stability area of the forklift. Typically, this occurs when a forklift is turning at high speeds, or changing directions.

Normally, the rear axle is free to pivot, to cope with the uneven floor conditions. This is a stable condition until the centre of gravity moves out of the triangle of stability. and the forklift starts to tip sideways.

To prevent this, the steer axle locking device developed by Toyota temporarily locks the steer axle to provide the truck with a high level of lateral stability.

Greater truck stability helps the operator concentrate on the job and reduces the stress associated with operating an unstable forklift.

During the development of the Fortens range, Hyster invested heavily in the virtual, bench and field testing equipment and processes to ensure that the new H2.0-3.5FT Fortens series provided a high level of reliability, performance and safety.

The Hyster Stability Mechanism on the Fortens series provides greater truck safety by reducing the truck lean in turns and improving its lateral stability. This advanced suspension system limits the pivot of the steer axle articulation. The design allows the Fortens trucks to travel smoothly over uneven surfaces such as dock entry plates, pot holes and debris. The HSM is 100 per cent maintenance free.

Gas cylinders aren’t the lightest things to change on an LPG-powered truck so Hyster came up with a quick-change solution, which can be fitted to the new Fortens range – the EZXchange bracket. This makes changing gas bottles simple and quick because the bracket, with gas-spring assisted cylinder, swings out and lowers the cylinder to a vertical and locked position. The bracket minimises arm and back strain.

The Vehicle Systems Manager is the computer brain of the truck which monitors and protects key truck features, including the truck’s tough powertrain and all its electrical systems. It also enables truck performance to be customised to suit individual application needs increasing safety. The VSM increases productivity while reducing the stress placed on the truck in arduous applications, avoiding unnecessary damage through inappropriate use. The Fortens series incorporates controlled roll back on slopes so that if the operator removes his foot from the brake pedal accidentally the truck returns gradually and does not freewheel out of control.

Linde’s new electric counterbalance truck range, E12 to E20, incorporates the latest thinking on safety. As with the Linde 39x diesel trucks, the operator’s benefit from a protective overhead guard with its supporting frame forms a strong and enclosed protective zone providing optimum structural integrity, safety and protection for the operator.

The mast tilt cylinders are mounted on top of this protector frame. This concept increases the stability of the lift mast for seamless load handling, and also facilitates the use of narrow mast profiles which offer the operator enhanced visibility and safety.

The “Linde driver assistant” proportionally and smoothly reduces the travelling speed during cornering and thereby increases truck stability and operator safety as well as increasing operator comfort and productivity.

The main braking is carried out by energy regeneration from the twin maintenance free AC traction motors. On top of this regeneration feature the trucks are equipped with oil immersed fail safe brakes that automatically apply in when the truck is switched off ensuring that the truck is always left in a safe condition.

The E12 to E20 range use Can Bus controllers that are dual wired. This ensures that all safety-related electronic components are duplicated and the electrical signals are transmitted twice. The micro-processors monitor each other for enhanced safety.

And safety was clearly at the forefront when Linde launched the X range of reach trucks last year. On the X range, the battery is located under the operator’s compartment giving it nearly twice the space of a conventional reach truck, enabling the fitment of a particularly wide comfort seat with full suspension and two adjustable armrests.

The mast frame uprights provide the operator with an ultra-wide visibility window while the forward positioning of the seat within a spacious cabin also means the operator is always safely within the profiles of the chassis. Another departure from conventional reach truck design is that the ultra-wide mast is permanently fixed to the chassis and does not reach backwards and forwards. Instead a traversing fork carriage provides this reach movement. The weight of the fixed mast has a ballasting effect that, combined with the low slung battery, produces good stability characteristics when travelling, manoeuvring and stacking.

An innovation from Jungheinrich addresses a common problem – the fact that drivers often spend a lot of time going backwards. Last year it launched a battery-powered forklift truck with a rotating driver’s cab. This is a further development of the “Future Truck” study presented by Jungheinrich in the year 2000.

The truck is based on a Jungheinrich battery-powered truck from the “4” series with a lifting capacity of 3,000 kilograms. The EFG D30 is mainly distinguished from its “mother”, the EFG 430, by the rotating cabin which can be rotated through 30 degrees to the left as well as through 180 degrees to the right with the Multipilot control.

After the load has been picked up, the driver can drive off straightaway and at the same time rotate the cabin through up to 90 degrees. This position offers an adequate and comfortable view to the rear for short and medium-long distances – comparable with a reach truck.

For travelling over longer distances, the driver can rotate the cabin through up to 180 degrees – in which case, owing to the automatic switchover function for the direction of steering and the direction of travel, this is only possible when the truck is stationary.

At the same time a memory system allows the operator to have the angle of his choice set automatically. In practice to date it has been found that the angles of 90 degrees (seated sideways as in a reach truck) as well as 45 degrees (for entering and leaving the truck) are to be recommended.

Safety played an important part in The Pallet Network’s decision to choose Still R70-20 gas forklifts for its new Rugby hub. Operations manager Mike Payne says that, as lorries actually drive into the hub, it was obvious that the floor would get wet. This has health and safety implications as most forklifts lose traction under acceleration and braking in wet conditions. “Due to the Still R70’s electric drive system we could throw buckets of water in front of the moving trucks and traction was never lost, the truck always held its line. Ultimately the R70 could stop and start with maximum safety,” he said.

The Nissan TX series launched last year features Nissan’s Risk Reduction System which is made up of a number of components. The Mast-Lock System is seat actuated. When the operator leaves the truck it automatically locks lifting and tilting operations. This prevents unsafe mast and fork operations. Once the operator is seated again, hydraulic functions can be fully used.

Having the Fingertip control on the armrest keeps the right hand on the armrest and left on the steering wheel all the time. It improves natural operation and enhances safety. When the emergency stop button on right hand side of arm rest is applied, fingertip operation is immediately stopped.

TurnControl provides automatic restriction of travelling speed & acceleration during turning. LoadControl offers restriction of loading speed at high travelling speed and RollbackControl means the truck slowly moves down the slope, when acceleration pedal is released.

Many of the leading manufacturers now provide systems for limiting access to authorised drives only on their new vehicles. Now Lamerholm Electronics has launched a low-cost system, ShockSwitch AC, which it says is packed with features that are in line with the recent HSE recommendations for work-place transport safety.

ShockSwitch AC has an integrated driver certificate monitoring facility. This means that driver competency can be checked and constantly improved while the tamper-proof hardware identifies every authorised driver. The addition of the ShockSwitch AC unit in a factory or warehouse environment serves to answer many safety concerns as it actively checks and reports on driver qualifications.

Lamerholm says that the ShockSwitch AC can be upgraded to the ShockSwitch ID / RFID, enabling driver impacts to be monitored and driver standards improved while lowering maintenance and damage costs to your vehicles, site and product.

Consolidated Fork Truck Services, a joint venture between BITA and FLTA has accused some “unscrupulous” dealers of failing to provide a Report of Thorough Examination certificate arguing that the annual exam is an important legal requirement that helps confirm when equipment is safe to use.

The CFTS said that there were some companies operating trucks without an up-to-date certificate and were unwittingly risking their employees’ safety. Steve Hodkinson, chairman of CFTS said: “This unacceptable situation is the direct result of a lack of understanding of thorough examination in the industry as a whole.”

It was imperative for operators to have a clear understanding of the law and their responsibilities within it. He said: “When you’re buying a used car, the MOT is the first thing you look for. It should be the same with fork lift trucks and the Report of Thorough Examination.”

Hodkinson urged buyers to insist on checking the certificate.

Check the certificate, says CFTS

Safety tips

Finning has prepared these safety tips for operators:

1. Don’t drive with an elevated load

When you raise the load you raise the centre of gravity, upsetting the balance of the lift truck.

2. Don’t drive with an unstable load

The slightest bump or turning movement can result in the load being being dropped.

3. On ramps travel with the load upwards

It doesn’t take much of a slope to unsettle a stack. Only go downhill with empty forks.

4. Be aware of trouble spots

There are likely to be many blind spots in the operating area. Proceed with caution.

5. Take extra care on loading docks

In the rush to load a trailer the repetition can easily make you oblivious to the fact that the lorry has inadvertently started to move away.

6. Never carry passengers

A sudden movement or reaction will send your colleague sprawling.

7. Keep your limbs inside the truck

The Safety cage is exactly that, anything sticking out has no protection at all.

Hyundai launches Folex name

The Manutention exhibition in Paris earlier this year saw the launch of a name change for Hyundai’s forklifts. The previous type designations – HBF, HDF or HLF for the electric, diesel or gas forklifts – are being replaced with the generic term Folex which stands for “Forklift Excellent” and is designed to express the machines’ claim to quality in the name already. Also, the change of name places stronger emphasis on family membership: Already, Hyundai’s excavators are known under the collective term “Robex”, which stands for “Robust Excavator” and, like “Folex” for the forklifts, is a quality promise.

Focus on standards

This year the National Safety Conference sponsored by Still, is focusing on the new Health and Safety Executive management standards for fork lift trucks. The event is being organised by The Forklift Truck Association which said that no matter how big or small a company, ensuring the safety of its employees is always of key importance and is a critical business issue. Even if no accident occurs, falling foul of the law could be enough to deal a company a heavy, even fatal blow. This is especially important when using large, potentially dangerous machinery.

Throughout the materials handling industry, busy operators say they’re increasingly confused by changes to regulations, methods and equipment affecting safety in the work-place – and that it’s taking more time than ever to ensure their operation is as safe as possible, and fully within the law.

Now, the Fork Lift Truck Association has noted another important change on the horizon, as the Health and Safety Executive intends to introduce new management standards for the operation of work-place transport.

The conference takes place on Tuesday 19 September at Warwick University. The keynote speaker will be Colin Chatten of the Health & Safety Executive work-place transport team. He will explain what the HSE’s proposed management standards might have in store for individual firms.

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