Why Forklift Safety is Like the Regular Football Season and Not the Playoffs


The Super Bowl was last February 2. National Forklift Safety Day was last June 10. Certainly, neither date is important now except for how they raised our awareness of the need for talent, discipline, and extra precautions in the regular season.

Of note, the professional training camps started in July, but the really savvy professionals actually started personal training months before. We all know why. Despite the allure of a Super Bowl ring, truly successful track records are not built on one game. Likewise, forklift safety is not a peak event at a rodeo, crowned by bragging rights, medals and awards.

Forklift safety is much more akin to the regular football season, and yes, even the Pre-Season. It’s about the day-to-day blocking and tackling. It’s about continual vigilance and discipline. And it’s much, much harder than winning the rodeo. The time to start building a winning game season started in May, and the time to start building a forklift safety record was at the beginning of your “Safety Year”, not two weeks before the rodeo.

Based on the stats, here are a few things to watch out for and what you can do about them.

1 – Stay in the cage. This means always use a seatbelt in case of a fall. It also means minimizing movement in and out of the forklift cage. One way to help with that was Bluff’s development of a dock board that could be safely placed, locked in and removed without leaving the cage. The Speedy Board comes in a wide range of sizes and capacities, and the efficiency savings – not to mention the cost reductions through safety – make this a great value.

2 – Maintain the forklift, but do it in a safe manner. Football teams check the goal posts for stability, and we’ve read the stories about what happens when the goal posts snap and fans sustain head injuries. Less written about, but no less devastating, is what happens when a mast collapses in the middle of forklift maintenance. Don’t let this happen to you. Bluff offers a reusable and handy Forklift Stabilization Kit that is more durable than wood. With it, both the wheels and the masts can be stabilized for safer maintenance. In football, trainers won’t allow unstabilized knee exercises, so don’t allow your masts and wheels to go unstabilized either.

3 – Prevent injuries when going up in the air. The NFL has rules about roughing the kicker when the kicker’s leg is up in the air and he is very vulnerable to injury. So too, OSHA has rules about going high up without protection. Bluff’s safety cage (or man basket) meets those rules, and protects workers from the many injuries that can occur when being lifted up for maintenance, picking and more.

Bottom line – winning the Super Bowl is not about a single game – it’s really about a whole season and staying injury free. So too with forklift safety – it’s not about a rodeo buckle or award, it’s about a whole season – productive and injury free. For more information from Bluff Manufacturing on how we can help you stay injury free and productive in your operation, call 1-800-433-2212, or visit our website at www.BluffManufacturing.com.

Who has a crystal ball to see into the future?

These days , senior managers, are having to make difficult choices (as we always do) about how much to spend, what to spend it on, and when to spend it. We all wish we knew with certainty what will be different with this economic cycle, but this time it’s even worse than normal… the stats don’t seem to be following the trends we have relied on in the past. This last horrendous economic cycle that began in 2007 just won’t stop! And at the World Economic Forum in Davos, some creative analysts at Oliver Wyman predicted the next downturn in April 2015 when some haven’t even gotten over the last one. What’s a manager to do and how do you plan for it?

One thing that hasn’t changed is the ongoing push (and success!!! – let’s not be shy about our great American Spirit at this 4th of July) in American Business to become more efficient while at the same time managing large capital costs. This helps us reserve cash flow necessary for survival in the downtimes. But the balance between getting the improvements and spending is tricky, it’s an art, and you can’t both spend money and save it at the same time.

One of the things you can do is to substitute alternate, lower-cost investments that get most of the results while making the investment itself much smaller. For those who need additional warehousing and dock space, have you thought of how to spend less while still keeping your operation going efficiently? Here are four things you can do to maximize results with minimum investment:

Need an extra dock?

One answer is to add a steel platform and yard ramp in your yard to unload additional trailers. This saves the cost of a major addition to add dock space or the cost of moving to a bigger, more expensive building. One portable dock ramp or a steel platform with yard ramp can be used 24/7 to increase the flow-through of goods.

Need extra floor space for operations?

Don’t move! Store what you do have more efficiently and vertically to free up floor space for other, revenue-producing activities. The problem is often unusually-shaped, heavy, or awkward pieces that just don’t store well in your existing rack. To solve the problem, call in an expert and design a custom cantilever rack that stacks the biggest “floor-hogs”.

Need more fork lifts, more drivers and more time to unload trucks?

You have good equipment and people, make them more efficient! Why invest in additional or replacement pit levelers that are subject to downtime – and make the dock shortage more acute. An alternative can be one of the less expensive, but highly efficient dock boards, such as the Speedy Board® by Bluff. One (or more) Speedy® Board can be used at multiple docks, and the driver never has to get off the fork lift to put it in place easily and quickly.

Need more rack space?

If you are running out of rack space, the thought may have occurred to you that you need more room, a bigger warehouse, additional rack or higher racking. But in the blink of an eye, a forklift careens into one of the posts putting 2 or 3 bays out of commission, and now things are more cramped and slower than ever. Maybe the solution is to protect what you have so that you are always at 100% utilization. You can minimize the chance for it being out of commission by protecting it with rack guards and post protectors. A smaller investment in protection can eliminate a bigger investment in racking or additional space.

So while we can’t all go to World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and hear the economic trends first hand, we can all take those insights and make them our own. Spend a little, get a big bang for the buck, save for a rainy day, and use good old fashioned American spirit to run fast, run lean. May you all have a safe and memorable 4th of July.


The World is Now Going Slower

NOT! We all seem to be moving faster and faster these days. As they say, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get”. So what can we do to reclaim some of that time and efficiency when we’re racing around in the warehouse, trying to get stuff loaded and unloaded, picked and put away, but still being safe about it?

One of the first things that can be done is PLANNING the work. Before you start driving, start thinking about the safest path through the warehouse, how to avoid pedestrian traffic (which can slow us down) and perhaps save multiple trips with one longer trip. It might even involve a new warehouse layout to have the most frequently picked items nearer to the door.

The second thing we can do is make sure we have the right tool for the job. Trying to put away cartons using a paper clamp just doesn’t work. Plan the work so that you get the forklift with the right attachment, the rubber mallet instead of a hammer that will damage equipment, or the properly rated rail board for unloading the rail car instead of the board that’s nearest to the dock door.


The last thing you can do is to think about your warehouse environment when you are replacing or buying new equipment. Taking a few extra moments to assess how your equipment is going to be used can save you time, money and personal injury in a big way. Don’t just replace the board you have… think about the equipment you really want. Here are some things to consider to maximize your investment and efficiency when buying new equipment:

  • What capacity do you really need for that dock board or plate? The answer is not just the weight of the product you are carrying. A higher grade going either up or down into a truck or rail car really accelerates the wear. Higher use (multiple shifts) and three-wheel forklifts also require higher capacity boards. And buying a board with slightly more capacity than you think you need can be your best investment. In some cases, higher capacity boards and plates can double your product life for a very small investment up front.
  • What are the traffic types and flows around the area?   What directions do forklifts go when they come out of the vehicle? Is there enough room on the dock?
  • If you can think of any design modifications to the product that will help you with your efficiency, talk with your dealer or manufacturer (especially those with good engineering support) to help you get a customized product that can give you a real advantage in efficiency.
  • Lastly, good rapport with an experienced dealer can help you identify best practices and where you may have an opportunity to improve the equipment you’re using now. The dealer’s knowledge is usually free to you, and can result in years of faster and safer use of your tools and equipment.