Pot holes and other defects in the yards of industrial facilities such as factories, warehouses and distribution centres caused by the recent freezing winter could lead to significant damage to forklift trucks working in the area, a leading materials handling industry safety expert has warned.
Peter Scott, Jungheinrich UK Ltd’s Group HSE manager, says: "In outdoor areas where lift trucks are in operation, any pot holes should be repaired as quickly as possible. Unlike cars, forklift trucks do not have sophisticated suspension systems and driving a lift truck over a substantial pot hole risks causing damage to the truck’s axle and tyres which could result in truck downtime and repair costs being incurred."
Peter continues: "Also, with summer coming and – hopefully some warm weather on the way – untreated pot holes will generate dust which might result in mechanical problems."
Untreated pot holes also present heath and safety issues. "Deep pot holes could potentially tip forklifts over – particularly if that truck is traveling with a raised load," says Peter Scott. " Of course, no forklift operator should travel with the load raised, but we all know that not all operators follow the rules and pot holes make these sort of drivers particularly vulnerable," he adds.
Pot holes form because – over time – asphalt surfaces eventually crack. These cracks allow snow and rainwater to seep into the underlying dirt and gravel. During cold winter conditions, this water freezes and expands. As a result, some of the dirt and gravel is pushed out, leaving a hole in the yard surface when the water eventually melts and the asphalt layer collapses.
"There are no shortages of pot hole repair kits available on the internet. I would advise anyone with a yard area that has suffered damage over the winter to invest in one as soon as possible and get the repair done before your truck fleet is damaged or – worse – one of your workers is involved in an accident that is a result of driving a forklift over a pot hole," adds Peter Scott.