Every year in the UK there are around 2000 accidents involving forklift trucks. Seven are fatal. Failure to maintain a safe working environment can have dire legal consequences for a business and its directors, so getting the best value from a truck in terms of safety is absolutely essential.
At Doosan the wellbeing of the driver and the safety of those sharing the same workspace is a primary focus for the company’s design engineers.

One of the most significant safety design features that comes as standard across the Doosan range is the company’s proprietary oil-cooled, maintenance-free, disc brake system. Manufactured as completely sealed units, the system is protected against outside elements, such as water, dust, dirt, shrink wrap and metal banding – ensuring top-rate braking performance, for enhanced safety and increased productivity.

An important consideration is that safe and efficient emergency braking can save lives. Doosan’s oil-cooled disc brakes have five times the brake friction surface of conventional shoe brakes, and being sealed units are not prone to the negative effects of water ingress suffered by shoe brakes, all of which provides the driver with the confidence to respond quickly to danger.

Doosan’s Rear Grab Handle and Horn

Now a standard feature on every counterbalance model, the simple innovation enhances driver safety when manoeuvring in reverse by enabling the operator to keep both hands within the body of the cab. Having the horn button mounted on the same handle cuts out the need for the driver to twist around every time the horn is sounded – reducing stresses on the operator’s back and neck.

What’s more, the inherent maintenance-free aspects of Doosan’s sealed brake-unit design not only saves on replacement shoe costs – a natural consequence of shoe brakes is wear and glazing – but ensures that powerful braking efficiency is always available, regardless of conditions.

Unfortunately, accidents often occur as a result of the operator stepping off a forklift truck to perform duties, such as pulling back lorry curtains or moving obstacles. Failure to apply a parking brake properly has all too often resulted in instances where the driver has been knocked over or pinned to the side of a vehicle, with tragic consequences.

To help prevent this Doosan has introduced an automatic parking brake to its latest electric truck range – the only manufacturer to do so. The electronic parking brake applies automatically as soon as the operator’s foot lifts from the accelerator pedal, preventing the accidental rolling away of the vehicle. When the operator presses the accelerator again the parking brake is released automatically, making everyday operation of the truck simple, efficient and safe. Soon this feature will also be introduced to Doosan’s engine counterbalance range.

The Doosan Swing Out & Down Gas Bottle Carrier

The issue of changing heavy LPG bottles weighing 25-30kgs by lifting them up and over the counterweight onto the gas bottle carrier had long been a struggle for operators. Doosan’s award-winning carrier eliminates the need for lifting these heavy bottles at arms-length by enabling the bottle to be easily placed onto the carrier in the vertical position – at waist height. It is then hydraulically assisted into position on top of the counterweight. The innovation has successfully contributed to reducing painful back injuries and time off work.

Another of Doosan’s innovative safety features is its Operator Sensing System, standard across all electric and engine models. The truck senses when an operator is seated on the vehicle and only then are the hydraulics able to be used. This prevents common causes for injury, which include the accidental use of the hydraulic levers while standing next to the truck or engineers carelessly operating the hydraulics whilst greasing the channels of the mast.

A neutral shift feature ensures that the transmission is automatically shifted into neutral when the operator leaves the seat with the engine running and the direction lever left in the forward or reverse position. An additional feature of the Operator Sensor System is a seat belt warning light that reminds the driver to fasten up.

However, some of the greatest potential dangers come as a result of forklift trucks operating in close proximity to pedestrians. Making people aware of vehicles close by is critical to ensuring a safe working environment. Along with flashing beacons and alarms for reversing – such as white noise and voice annunciation “Stand clear, forklift reversing” – a projected light to the floor also serves well to warn pedestrians. These are all available across the Doosan range.

A brand new low-cost proximity alert system about to be introduced by Doosan is a projected LED red line, which extends to a meter along the sides and back of the vehicle, marking out a danger zone to pedestrians.

However, for extra safety Doosan is also about to launch a sophisticated pedestrian detection system developed by Transmon Engineering that will automatically apply the brakes if a person or obstacle is detected in the path of a reversing vehicle. The three-stage safety system warns with an alarm and flashing lights at 9-5m from the object, automatically slows the forklift at 5-3m and at 3m the brakes are applied hard to perform an automatic emergency stop. An override button fitted to Doosan’s reverse grab handle (available with integral horn), allows the driver to proceed at a slow speed if the path can be navigated safely.

A flashing beacon attached to a forklift truck is a sensible and well-recognised safety feature, helping to alert pedestrians to potential danger. However, they are often attached to the top of the overhead-guard and are therefore prone to damage. Once damaged, they are not always replaced immediately. Doosan’s clever design protects the lamp as it is affixed to the underside of the overhead-guard – a simple, but effective solution. Likewise, steel guards protect forward lights.

Access control is gaining greater attention amongst fleet owners. Firstly, to ensure that only qualified and authorised personnel have access to permitted vehicles and secondly, to assign accountability for the working condition of the truck at the start of a shift. Access codes are widely used, but swipe cards can offer higher levels of functionality, beyond simply allowing access. A swipe-card can present details on the operator, allowing the system to automatically prompt in advance if a licence is about to run out, if training is needed, or perhaps, if the holder is trying to access a vehicle for which they are not qualified to operate.

Forklift truck operators are usually asked to fill in a checklist at the start of a shift to ensure the safety and condition of the vehicle – checking that tyres are in order, wheel nuts tight, no visible damage etc. However, paper checklists tend to go missing or are simply not returned to the manager’s office.

Doosan has a solution to this problem by adding an optional Daily Check programme onto the truck. The vehicle will not start until the operator has answered the on-screen questions – helping to ensure that the operator takes responsibility for the truck’s condition at the start of a shift and that records are kept safely on the system for future reference should an accident occur with the vehicle. Such checks are vital in reducing risk.

Of course, keeping a truck well serviced and in good, safe working condition is absolutely essential. Annual examinations are an important part of this and keeping accurate maintenance records of every vehicle in the fleet is as a vital way of mitigating risk when it comes to Health & Safety compliance.

Doosan’s online fleet management system records all the service details, thorough examinations and history for every vehicle in a customer’s fleet – and as it is accessible online, each customer has free access to their data at any time. So if there is an accident, or audit, the customer can log into the Doosan fleet management system and bring up their records with ease. All updates to the system are made by Doosan service engineers automatically at the end of a site visit.

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