Identifying the Dangers of Forklifts

11_15_16_dangersYou don’t have to own or even use a forklift to know there are dangers and risks associated with using the heavy machinery, just as there are risks with any equipment. A loaded forklift can be as much as six times the weight of a car. Each year in the U.S., there are approximately 34,900 serious accidents involving forklifts. Understanding what causes many of these lift truck accidents is key to preventing them from happening again.

Common Causes

While there are several ways that a person can die in a forklift accident, the National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities Surveillance System (NTOF) identified four of the most common types of fatal forklift accidents: forklift overturns, worker struck by forklift, victim crushed by forklift, and a fall from a forklift.

Most injuries are due to lack of safety enforcement and insufficient training.

Safety Steps

Just as forklifts should be inspected routinely, safety rules should be reviewed on a regular basis. Before a forklift moves, consider the following:

  • Can the forklift handle the size and weight of the load?
  • Does the load have an unusual shape that makes it top-heavy or awkward on the lift truck?
  • Does the path for carrying the load have any bumps, narrow aisles, or obstacles?

All forklift operators must be trained and licensed. Any employers with forklifts in use should consider the following:

The Texas Department of Insurance offers a helpful training aid for the forklift driver and for employees who work at a location with lift trucks in action. Just like driving a car, knowing what to do if an accident is about to happen, such as the forklift tipping over, is essential to preventing serious injury or death.

At Ranger Lift Trucks, we sell and lease lift trucks of all types and it’s our hope that every individual who uses one of these forklifts receives the instruction and training required for safe use. All units at Ranger receive a 108-point mechanical check and are brought to top condition to ensure safe use immediately after purchase.

The Difference Between New and Refurbished Forklifts

What is the difference between new and refurbished forklifts? Buying a forklift is a significant purchase for a company that is typically prompted by a specific need. The budget and the need are two main factors involved in determining what type of forklift is right for the company. If a company has a tight budget, it can rule out many brand new forklifts. Forklifts can range in price from $15,000 to more than $150,000 for a top of the line, brand new model. A refurbished forklift costs anywhere from 30 to 50 percent less than a brand new unit. Beyond cost and need, how does a company know if it should buy a new forklift or a refurbished forklift to do the job?

Determine the Use

The use of a forklift is specific to a company’s needs. A refurbished forklift is ideal if it is only used about four to five hours a day and no more than five days a week. If the environment for the lift truck will be a heavy-use, busy warehouse environment, then a refurbished lift truck is not recommended because of its previous use.

Learn About Refurbished Forklifts

If you consider a refurbished forklift, there is more to know versus buying a brand new forklift. Ask the company about its refurbishing process. For example, at Ranger Lift Trucks all units receive a 108-point mechanical check and they are brought to top condition. Not all companies that refurbish forklifts offer the same guarantee.

Also, with a refurbished forklift the lift truck has a history that is important to know. Ask the seller how many hours the lift truck has been used and request to see the maintenance records. This will show if any major parts were replaced and you can get a better idea of how well the forklift has been maintained.

Whether you buy new or a refurbished forklift, it is helpful to inspect and test drive the unit before finalizing the purchase. At Ranger Lift Trucks, our experienced team in Baytown and New Braunfels, Texas can offer advice for what type of lift trucks works best for your unique situation. We rent, lease, sell, and buy lift trucks of all types, and will work to find you a forklift and a financing plan that helps your business get the job done.

The Top Signs Your Forklift Battery Needs to be Replaced

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Forklifts and the batteries that operate them are crucial to businesses of all sizes, sorts and industries. But unfortunately, these key batteries don’t last forever. If your battery is more than a couple years out and you think you might be due for a replacement soon, there are some common signs you can look for that might suggest it is indeed time to replace that lift truck battery.

Slow to Start

If your lift truck seems to be taking a little extra time to get going, it is likely a sign that you need to replace the battery. Being slow to start, along with showing other lackluster symptoms like dim headlights can point to a battery that is due for replacement.

Short Run Time

Even if your lift truck is starting fine, failure to run for as long as it usually does can be another sign that the battery is on its way out. Perhaps the forklift isn’t lasting a full shift, or is calling it quits a few hours into the day. This is a big sign that a battery issue could be at play.

Sulfur Smell

One telltale sign that your forklift battery likely needs to be replaced is the smell of sulfur or rotten eggs. You might notice the smell when charging the batteries. The smell can develop when a battery cell stops accepting a charge, but the system is still attempting to recharge. Instead of recharging, the cell just heats up and the sulfuric acid inside the battery begins to bake and produce the unpleasant, eggy odor.

Evidence of Corrosion

If you spot evidence of corrosion when you examine your lift truck battery, it may be another sign that the battery needs replacing. If you are suspicious about your battery’s life expectancy, take a look at the battery case. If you see a white powdery substance has begun to build up, the battery is likely corroding and as such, needs to be replaced.

While you can typically expect most batteries to last around five years, things can and do go wrong before that time. Don’t ignore strange symptoms just because your battery is only two years out. As soon as your forklift shows signs that it needs a new battery, it is very important for the safety of the operator, other workers and the overall operating environment that you stop using it right away and address the issue. An old battery may get very hot and even start to smoke, at which point it could catch fire. And if a lift truck is acting slow because of a failing battery, it could lose response time and limit the driver’s ability to handle it agilely and safely.

If you discover your forklift’s troubles are caused by a bigger problem than just a dying battery, or are just otherwise in the market for a new, used or leased lift truck, contact Ranger Lift Trucks today. Our helpful team will get you set up with the perfect forklift, or get an old forklift off your hands. To learn more, give us a call today.

Common Causes Behind Forklift Accidents & How to Prevent Them

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Forklifts help us get the job done, day in and day out. But unfortunately, the lift trucks many of us grow so accustomed to can be sources of danger if not handled properly.

While there are many individual factors that lead to forklift accidents, the most common causes can be considered in three categories: workplace organization, behavioral or operational factors and environmental factors.

Workplace Worries

The way a workplace is set up, run and organized can either greatly contribute to forklift safety, or it can help create an environment that is prone to accidents. Some workplace organizational factors that commonly contribute to accidents include a lack of proper forklift maintenance or a lack o the right tools and lift truck accessories to get the job done safely. A workplace culture that puts too great a focus on speed or is otherwise a high-stress environment can also lead to accidents. And perhaps one of the biggest workplace factors that contributes to lift truck accidents is a lack of proper training for forklift operators.

Behavioral Factors

Often, the cause of accidents can be avoided by safe driving behavior on the part of the operator. Issues like operating the machine at too high a speed, improper loading, turning too quickly and improper braking all commonly contribute to accidents, along with horseplay or “stunts” while driving. Another key behavioral issue that often causes trouble is poor communication. Forklift operators must give proper warnings to others in the area about forklift use, and they must communicate well with others while in close quarters or working on shared tasks. Failure to do so can cause serious accidents.

Environmental Causes

The environment in which lift trucks are operated can also be a major contributor to accidents. If, for example, there is a large volume of traffic (either vehicle or foot) in the operating area or lots of uneven or slippery surfaces, accidents may be more likely to occur. Other issues like narrow or cluttered aisles, noise, dust and dim lighting are all common environmental contributors to forklift accidents.

Studies have shown that most deaths from forklift-related accidents were caused by forklift overturns (22 percent), a worker on foot being struck (20 percent), being crushed (16 percent) or falling from the lift truck (9 percent). Many such accidents can be prevented by taking care to make sure that safety is being considered and stressed from all different angles – including workplace organization, operator behavior and the operating environment. Creating a workplace culture that values, respects and focuses on forklift safety at every point – from maintenance, to operation practices, to training, to the creation of a safe operation environment – can go a long way to preventing accidents.

Ranger Lift Trucks has been helping companies create this culture of forklift respect for years with well-maintained, high quality lift trucks that perfectly fit their environment. We rent, sell, buy and lease new and used forklifts of all types to business of all types, both in South Texas and across the globe. Call us today to learn more and to find your perfect forklift fit.

Daily Inspection To-Dos for Forklift Operators

Lift Truck Safety Checklist
Lift truck safety checks keep your team safe and your equipment in good working order.

Are you and your team just hopping on your forklifts in the morning and getting to work? While getting down to business is obviously important, daily lift truck inspections are not a step to be skipped. The simple process of checking that your forklift is up to par and operating well can save your business serious downtime and money in the long run, and help prevent forklift injuries. So what steps should lift truck operators be taking before they get into the daily grind?

A Two-Part Inspection

OSHA not only recommends, but requires that every forklift be examined at least once a day before being used. This step involves two parts – a visual check that happens before the forklift is turned on and an operational check that happens once the engine has been started. If the inspection happens to alert the driver to any issues, the lift truck should not be used until further inspections confirm that it is safe!

Part 1: Visual Check

This “pre-start” check is sometimes also called a “circle” check – the operator should make their way around the lift truck in a circle, checking various parts for any issues. A wide variety of components should be inspected, and the precise list of items can vary depending on the type of forklift. Tire condition and condition of safety devices (like the seat belt and fire extinguisher) should be checked at this time, along with fluid levels. Among the other components to be checked are bolts, nuts, hoses, forks and the battery. The operator should also check for obstructions in the operating area – including on the floor and overhead.

Part 2: Operational Inspection

Once the visual inspection is complete, the operator should start up their lift truck and complete the “operational” inspection. Again, the complete list of items to be inspected can vary from unit to unit and type to type – companies should create or find a comprehensive list for their lift trucks and equip operators with this knowledge. With the engine on, the driver should check components like the brakes, steering system and lift mechanism, taking note of and reporting any unusual sounds or movements. Components like the dash control panel, horns and lights should also be checked.

A complete pre-use check of a forklift, including a visual, pre-start check and an operational, post-start check is crucial to ensuring a long life for your lift truck and a safe work environment for your employees. Although the days are busy, a daily inspection should be non-negotiable and time should always be allotted for this task.

Whether you are looking to purchase a forklift to add to your roster, need to lease or rent a lift truck, or sell or trade in a lift truck, the team at Ranger Lift Trucks is here to help. We are experts in finding the right forklift for the job and in helping companies expand their forklift operations. Call us today for more information, 281-424-2111.

Should You Buy, Rent, or Lease a Forklift?

Need a lift truck but feeling unsure about your options? This is a common dilemma for business owners and equipment managers. While there is no absolute answer for every case, there are lots of things to consider, and thankfully, plenty of options to help you get a forklift and get to work.

Option 1: Rent

Renting is the best option if you need the forklift for a quick job or for a limited amount of time. For example, if you have a project that requires a forklift – maybe even only for a few days’ worth of work – and you aren’t sure if this will be a regular need. Or maybe you already have a forklift or two in your warehouse, but you know that the last month of the year will be especially busy and you temporarily need an extra set of wheels on the ground. No matter what the details are, renting is a great option if your time frame and forklift needs are limited. Renting can also provide the opportunity to try out a machine you are thinking of purchasing.

Option 2: Lease a Forklift

Leasing is a good option if you aren’t ready for the commitment of purchasing a lift truck, but know you will need the use of one for months or years. Leasing typically means you are committing to the forklift for a much longer period of time than a typical rental period. However, you still are free to return the machine at the end of your contract and opt for a different model if needed. It can be a great option if you don’t want to spend a lot of cash up front, but need a lift truck to get down to business now.

Option 3: Buy

Purchasing a forklift can be a big investment and a big decision. But if the machine is something your company will continually need, you’ll probably spend less in the long run if you buy versus lease. And, if you ever decide you are done with the forklift, you will likely be able to sell the equipment for some cash. What’s more, some companies see a tax benefit to purchasing equipment over leasing.

Multiple Solutions for Varied Circumstances

Determining whether to buy, lease or rent a lift truck is a decision that takes consideration by individual business owners and managers. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and thankfully, there are options that fit all business models and situations.

Leasing and renting both allow you access to these vehicles without the big upfront cost of purchasing a forklift. Because of this, the barriers are pretty low, and you can usually obtain a forklift and get to work quickly. Another, valuable benefit is that the rental/leasing company usually handles the costs and logistics associated with maintenance and repairs. However, if you know your company will always need the use of a forklift, it might be a better financial investment to just buy a lift truck outright, and skip the monthly charges.

Likely, even for individual companies, renting, leasing and buying will all be solutions that work at different times and for different pieces of equipment. If you need advice about what solution will work best for your unique situation, give Ranger Lift Trucks a call. Our experienced team has been helping businesses find the perfect forklift for nearly 20 years. We rent, lease, sell and buy lift trucks of all types, and will work to find you a machine and a financing plan that helps your business thrive.

Lift Truck Training 101

Are you thinking about purchasing your company’s first forklift? Or maybe you aren’t sure that your business is meeting national standards when it comes to lift truck training? Having well-trained lift truck drivers is crucial to both safety and efficiency. Let’s take a look at the basics of training for lift truck operators and see what you need to know.

Lift Truck Training Basics

In the US, the burden of training lift truck operators falls on the employer. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers it the employer’s responsibility to implement a training program, and to make sure forklift drivers are trained and skilled at operating these machines.

OSHA provides a list of training topics that need to be covered, although the topics can be varied somewhat for different industries and work environments. For example, focuses on different hazards and vehicle types may vary, but general principles of safe operation must always be covered. Both formal and practical training methods are required – meaning operators must both learn in a classroom setting with methods like lectures or videos, and they must learn with physical exercises and demonstrations.

After training, drivers must demonstrate their safe forklift operating abilities in an evaluation given by the employer.

Custom-Tailored Training

If the thought of providing comprehensive training yourself sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. There are plenty of options available to help make sure your employees are well-trained, while keeping the process simple.

If you or someone on your team is qualified and confident about running training themselves, OSHA provides many free, comprehensive materials that can help you get started. A benefit to in-house training is that it can easily and comprehensively address site-specific hazards and other operating issues that are unique to your business.

Courses are available to help make sure the trainer feels prepared to teach, or you can opt for an entire prepackaged training kit. These kits usually contain materials like videos, tests, software and booklets that help conduct the course efficiently. However, these programs usually need to be supplemented to address site-specific issues.

Another option is to outsource the lift truck training altogether. Again, issues specific to your business will likely need to be supplemented, but outsourced courses are typically run by knowledgeable professionals and are often quite comprehensive.

Refreshers are Required

It is important to remember that lift truck training is not a “one and done” operation. OSHA notes that refresher training is needed whenever “an operator demonstrates a deficiency in the safe operation of the truck.” This can include a variety of situations, including the driver being assigned to a different type of lift truck, the occurrence of a near-miss accident or changes in the operation environment. And, even if the operator has a spotless record of safe driving, they must be evaluated by the employer at least once every three years.

Regardless of which training strategies and approaches you decide to employ, and regardless of your industry, forklift operator training is more than just a formality – it is a crucial safety measure. Not only does lift truck training (and training refreshers) help make sure your operation is running smoothly and efficiently, it helps ensure the safety of your drivers, the safety of other staff and it even helps protect your investment in equipment and materials.

If you are in the market for a new, used or leased forklift, contact the experienced team at Ranger Lift Trucks. We’ll help you find the perfect vehicle for your needs and for your team, and at the best deal. Call us today to learn more.

Periodic Maintenance: Key to Lift Truck Longevity

Adding a forklift to your assets is no minor investment. The machines can be big ticket items, and ones that are crucial to your company. Any downtime for repairs or replacement can mean major delays in how you do business. So how do you keep your lift trucks running longer and running better? The key might just be regular, periodic maintenance.

Why Regular Lift Truck Maintenance is Important

Proper lift truck maintenance is important for several reasons. Not only does instituting a periodic, regular maintenance plan help keep machines running with less downtime, it can help keep them in better condition for a much longer period of time and it can help ensure your forklift is operating safely. In fact, OSHA reports that “scheduled maintenance is critically important to the safe operation of your vehicle.”

All of these factors – better operation, longer life and checks on safety – can save you big bucks and serious time along the way, all while protecting your employees.

Steps to Consider

The appropriate time frame for periodic maintenance will vary, and depend on factors like lift truck type, usage levels and operation environment. You can check with the manufacturer of your lift truck for details on the regular maintenance schedule they recommend. Some manufacturers might recommend certain maintenance steps every 60 days, or every 200 hours of forklift driving, for example.

Components on every part of the forklift should undergo periodic maintenance and upkeep, including components on the interior, exterior and components under the hood. A few examples include regularly checking fluid levels, brakes, mirrors, warning lights, headlights, steering mechanisms and hydraulic lines. Periodic maintenance should also include a thorough cleaning of the lift truck. Steps like replacing filters and keeping the radiator clean can go a long way to preventing downtime.

For guidance on maintaining your forklifts, or to see what lift trucks we have available for sale, give Ranger Lift Trucks a call today. We have been servicing, selling and renting lift trucks both in the gulf coast area and internationally for 18 years. No matter what your forklift needs are, Ranger Lift Trucks has a solution for you!

Boosting Awareness Through National Forklift Safety Day

Forklift safety is an important issue for business owners, lift truck operators and anyone who works for or relies on a company that uses the powerful vehicles. However, in the busy pace of everyday business, the matter of forklift safety can sometimes get swept under the rug and forgotten. That’s why National Forklift Safety Day was created. The observance of this day on June 14 presents a great opportunity for organizations to bring attention to the important topic of lift truck safety.

This year, the 2016 National Forklift Safety Day will mark the third observance of the holiday. It’s organizers, the Industrial Truck Association, highlight the day as an opportunity for forklift safety education. ITA notes that enhanced awareness and firm commitments to safety made on this day can help improve operating conditions for lift trucks, over 190,000 of which are sold each year in the US.

With so many of these powerful machines in the US, there are plenty of opportunities for danger if not handled properly by trained and focused operators in safe environments. In fact, an estimated 34,900 serious accidents involving forklifts occur across a wide range of industries each year in the US.

While ITA’s National Forklift Safety Day activities will focus on events in Washington DC, individual businesses can use the day as an opportunity to provide refresher trainings about lift truck safety, both for those who operate the vehicles and for others who work around them. The day can also be used to make sure that lift truck operators are being provided with safe, well-maintained machines and safe environments in which to use them.

When forklift operators, business owners and other staff are all informed and actively pursuing lift truck safety, the risk of accidents can be seriously reduced. This helps keep workers safe and business running smoothly and efficiently.

If you want to have a new, used or leased forklift in operation by National Forklift Safety Day on June 14, contact us at Ranger Lift Trucks. Our expert team will help you find the perfect lift truck to get the job done.