Safety is no accident

With the majority of accidents in the material handling industry attributable to collisions between forklifts and pedestrians, more needs to be done to reduce injuries and potential fatalities.

Occupational health and safety in the material handling industry is critical, with the safe operation of forklift trucks being integral to its success. Regardless of its costs, it must become an industry standard.

The goal – zero harm

According to Dawn Van Dyk, SHEQ Manager at CFAO Equipment SA, the majority of accidents are due to a lack of proper training, licensing, and human behaviors.

“Material handling equipment predominantly operates in reverse, resulting in reduced visibility for the operator. Coupled with this, many warehouse and logistics spaces do not have demarcated areas for pedestrians to walk, with many having to walk between machinery and racks. This increases their potential risk for injury, with the majority of accidents the result of collisions between forklifts and pedestrians.”

In addition, operators are often incentivised to increase their productivity. With this comes working at speed, which can result in them picking up bad habits, including driving outside of designated routes, not wearing seatbelts, not remaining in the cage when accidents occur, turning while the load is still in the air and trying to take sharp turns at speed. These can lead to the tipping of the forklift, racking being hit, the potential damaging of equipment and goods, and increased risk of injury to the operator and those nearby.

Setting high safety standards

As part of the greater CFAO Group, CFAO Equipment SA abides by Toyota’s After Sales Service Evaluation and Certification (ASEC) standards – a program that ensures its dealers offer the best service in the industry, with an emphasis on safe working conditions.

From a technician’s point-of-view, safety always comes first, with ASEC-certified technicians required to complete a compulsory risk assessment before beginning any job. Their mobile mechanic system prompts the technicians on whether they have the correct PPE to perform the task, and if the area they are working in is level and clear of obstructions. This ensures the technician is aware of the safe working procedures to do the job correctly, as well as highlighting the risks involved before starting the job.

The company is passionate about operator training and has developed a fully certified operator training course to ensure that the operators at its customer’s sites have the relevant licenses and the best theoretical and practical knowledge to do their jobs efficiently and safely.

A new benchmark in forklift safety

As the distributor of Toyota Material Handling’s diverse range of material handling equipment, CFAO Equipment SA believes the brand’s product offerings encompass all safety requirements for customers to efficiently and safely drive their businesses forward.

“Toyota Material Handling develops its products with safety first. The new 8FBE range of forklifts proves its worth as one of the safest and most productive on the market. Boasting a host of innovative technological advancements, the 8FBE comes equipped with several safety features that bolster safety, performance, efficiency and productivity,” says Van Dyk.

Featuring the industry-first SEnS+ operator assistance system, the AI-powered camera system distinguishes between pedestrians and objects behind the forklift and notifies the operator with a buzzer and lights when a pedestrian is nearby. The system also automatically controls the travelling speed of the truck and prevents it from moving backwards.

While similar products exist, many require pedestrians to wear tags for the forklift to identify them, which is often not practical. Unlike tag-dependant systems, the SEnS+ system can detect unspecified obstacles and pedestrians, making them particularly useful at logistics sites, which have unspecified movement constraints.

Its exclusive System of Active Stability (SASe) – a system that monitors forklift operations – detects instances of instability, where the automated vehicle speed control and the turning speed control can actively adjust forklift speeds to reduce the chance of lateral tip-over.

“Adding to this, the Active Mast Function Controller senses and reacts to instability by limiting mast angle and speed according to the load’s height and weight, while the Active Steering Synchroniser ensures that the angle of the steering wheel corresponds to the angle of the rear steered wheels,” she comments.

By partnering with CFAO Equipment SA and its diverse range of Toyota Material Handling products, customers have the performance and agility they need to adapt to the ever-changing industry.

The future of forklift safety

“We are seeing large multi-nationals become increasingly safety conscious and we anticipate they will lead the charge in acquiring technological innovations that will help them achieve their safety goals,” remarks Van Dyk. “Operator monitoring will become increasingly important, where the industry could harness technologies such as in-cab cameras like those used in the trucking industry to monitor operator fatigue, amongst others.”

Safety is a measure of success in the material handling industry and one which CFAO Equipment SA regularly promote during on-site customer workshops. Highlighting the implications of not promoting safety and understanding how it can affect businesses and their employees, will be the deciding factor in ensuring that more industry stakeholders make the necessary changes to their operations.

Prevention is better than a cure, and in the material handling industry, it can truly mean the difference between life and death. And this is why CFAO Equipment SA is committed to the safety-first principle of Anzen.