OSHA regulations do mention forklift brakes. Most of their attention is spent on when the parking brake needs to be set. Proper use of the parking brake is important, but more frequently forklift brakes are called on again and again to moderate speed and of course stop the lift truck.
Ensuring that forklift components and systems are working properly is key to maintaining your operators’ safety and productivity. Your forklift’s brake assembly is one of the most relied upon components of safe forklift operation and should be inspected daily before the forklift is put to use. If your forklift brakes are not working, it could lead to costly accidents and injuries in your facility.
Forklift Brake Assembly Structure
The two main components of your brake assembly are the brake drum and brake shoes. When braking, the brake shoes are forced against the brake drum to cause friction and slow down and stop your forklift.
Two pieces of steel comprise the brake shoes. The portion forced against the brake drum to decelerate and stop is known as the brake lining. Due to the frictional nature of the braking action, the brake lining is wear and heat resistant. As the brake shoes are used over time, the brake lining wears down and requires replacement. The brake shoes periodically need maintenance and replacement as well. Without proper maintenance, more expensive wear and tear can be done to the brake drum, necessitating an expensive replacement.
Continual, excessive brake maintenance can be a sign of poor operator practices. Common errors that can cause damage to brake systems include:
- Driving with the parking brake engaged
- Braking too hard without allowing enough time for the forklift to decelerate
- Driving “two-footed” with the brakes partially engaged
- Driver error leading to damage of the wheel cylinder and hub seals, which keep the brake system properly lubricated
If these errors are occurring in your facility, you may wish to contact your local Toyota dealer to help facilitate training for your operators.
The Operational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) each require forklift operators to complete an inspection checklist before beginning a shift. While not as thorough as planned maintenance checks, an operator inspection helps to detect issues early and keep workers aware of their equipment’s condition. Ensuring proper brake pedal resistance and parking brake engagement keeps forklifts safe for work, and visual checks of brake shoes through the wheel hubs can catch maintenance needs before they develop into full-blown problems.
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Original article was published by Toyota Material Handling U.S.A.
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