Just like any other forklift operation, OSHA maintains regulations for ramp and incline safety. A ramp or slope is defined as any angle that exceeds 10% or one-foot rise for every ten feet of elevation. OSHA states “When ascending or descending grades in excess of 10 percent, loaded trucks shall be driven with the load upgrade…. On all grades the load and load engaging means shall be tilted back if applicable and raised only as far as necessary to clear the road surface”.
Not only can ramps affect forklift operation, ramps can damage battery cycle time, fuel consumption, component temperature, longevity, and reliability of the equipment. Descending and ascending properly from an incline can greatly decrease the affects. It is extremely important to learn how to operate a forklift on these inclines, especially with a full load. During training operators should lean how to calculate the percentage of the incline. Dividing the rise of the incline by the run of the incline and multiplying it by 100 gives the percentage. Calculating this will determine if this is an incline and give operators a heightened sense of awareness when driving on this surface.
There are several precautions that operators should assume when operating on an incline:
- Raise levels should be limited to the minimum height for ground clearance.
- Always drive with the load pointed up the slope
- Drivers should look in the direction of traffic
- Maintain a safe distance from the edge of the ramp
- When descending with a load, travel in reverse with forks pointed towards the grade
- When traveling up with no load, the forks should be pointed downwards.