Moving with the load raised is generally unsafe and should be avoided.
No matter how light the load, carrying it in the air is ill advised. As a manufacturer of materials handling equipment, we never advise customers to move the truck with the load raised. It’s a basic safety concern for all in the sector, but despite the advice, it’s very common.
When it comes to sideloaders, forks are for lifting and lowering, the bed is for transporting.
In forklifts, load moving is a big risk. The point of contact of a load on the forks is tiny in comparison to the contact and weight distribution when on the bed.
The same is the case for loads on support legs of a multi-directional machine. Falling loads are a danger to operators, equipment and pedestrians.
How Does A Sideloader Make Moving Loads Safe?
When a long load is on the sideloader bed, it is not only more secure, it is also possible to see where the load ends. If raised, that’s not always the case. With the load protruding beyond the truck, there’s more potential to hit doorways or racking, especially whilst cornering, than if the load is correctly carried on the load bed.
Why Do Some Forklift Operators Still Move With The Load Raised?
Some may argue that moving with the load raised is done to allow the operator to see underneath it.
This may be true, but why is it necessary? Beyond precise inching manoeuvres, seeing under the load should only be necessary when lifting and lowering, not whilst turning or travelling forwards.
Habit and lack of awareness are probably the main reasons why this driving behaviour persists.
So, How Can We Prevent Unsafe Load Lifting?
Baumann offers on all models a mast interlock option which restricts drive unless the forks are positioned slightly lower than bed height, or if the mast is not correctly retracted (driving with the forks outside the chassis footprint can be equally dangerous). Inching is still allowed for small adjustments and safety reasons, but truck movement is set at a highly reduced speed.
What’s more, the option can be retrofitted on all trucks.
Incidentally, the same technology is also possible on the (much more vulnerable) counterbalance forklift, using a magnetic latch switch linked to the drive signal, but if it is ever fitted, it’s very rare.
Linked to the relay for the drive circuit, the Baumann sideloader mast interlock can also be set to prevent travel with the mast over a certain height, something common for operations with low doors or roof obstructions, or with the cab door open.
Naturally, certain operators can be resistant to measures that slow them down in order to increase their safety. For the sake of those small gains in the speed of operation, the risks are never worth it.
Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the customer to train operators to work in a safe manner, and it is then incumbent upon the operator to put that training into practice. Load security, productivity and safety are some of the sideloader’s best features, and it would be a shame, and potentially criminal, to ignore them.