Take a look out on your floor. Note whether or not you see two things:
First, how do your industrial vehicles look? Are your forklifts dented or dinged? Each ding and dent is an impact with either other trucks, racks, your inventory or, worse, a person.
Next, what are those employees who work in proximity to your forklifts and other industrial vehicles doing? Are their heads on a swivel, paying attention to what’s happening around them and where vehicles are or may be coming from? Or, more likely, are they focused on doing their job or distracted by coworkers or their phone?
What’s the big deal, though? Vehicles get dinged. People don’t pay attention. That’s life in a warehouse environment. It is, and that’s the problem. These behaviors and occurrences that are just part of life are also serious safety issues, and if left unaddressed are going to eventually have ramifications that could come with substantial costs.
We mentioned in a previous post about National Forklift Safety Day that nearly 100 people die each year in forklift accidents. Tens of thousands more are injured. Unsafe work environments where accidents like this can occur are a liability for the company, but they don’t have to be.
Five safety factors you can monitor with a VMS
In that previous post we talked about the power of visibility provided by vehicle management systems. You can’t be everywhere in your facility, but with the right tools you virtually can be. You can see things that you couldn’t see before. You can make changes that make you safer.
We promised some more details around what the right VMS can actually allow you to improve safety. Breaking it down, it’s .
Impacts — Not every operator is the same. Some are better than others, and you probably have a few that you consider your best. But, on a purely performance level, are they? Without a VMS that can alert you to impacts, you don’t know. But when you know which operators are regularly having accidents you can retrain them before they cause an incident that results in major injury.
A VMS can also alert you to areas of your floor that even the best drivers have a tough time navigating. If you know those locations you can make operational changes that can create a safer work environment.
Access control — Not every industrial vehicle is the same, and just because operators have the training and license to operate one doesn’t mean they should be operating another. Each vehicle type requires its own certifications. How often, though, are unauthorized drivers operating your vehicles? Probably more often that you’d care to know.
With a VMS, you can restrict vehicle access only to those who are authorized to use them. Because ignitions are controlled through an operator’s identification, vehicles won’t start if that driver doesn’t have the proper license to operate it.
Checklists – OSHA requires them for a reason; unsafe vehicles make an unsafe workplace. A VMS system doesn’t allow operators to skip checklists or put them off to the end of a shift. The operator’s vehicle literally won’t function until the checklist is completed.
This also provides a paper trail when an incident does occur since drivers often will blame a poorly functioning vehicle for problems, not the lack of an inspection.
Speed — Speed is an issue not just on the highway but in many facilities. Most industrial vehicles don’t have speedometers, so it is hard to blame a driver for going too fast. But the right VMS can allow you to call attention to operators and those around them when the facility or area speed limit is breached.
Zones – There are areas in every facility where it’s not smart to have a vehicle. Maybe there’s too much pedestrian traffic. Maybe there are fragile goods in the area. Whatever the reason, you don’t want drivers going in there. A VMS working together with a GPS location system can allow you to know which drivers are taking vehicles into these banned zones and even lock them out when they get there.