Equipment Training: Inspections

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Imagine the following: a warehouse worker completes their shift using a lift truck. The next worker to come in sees the lift truck has been in use with no issues on the previous shift, so they jump on and get to work. A few hours later, the operator experiences a near-miss. An easily identifiable brake deficiency nearly resulted in a collision.

Scenarios like this are common. Yet, there is something missing. Something vital. The worker who took over the lift truck should have completed a  pre-shift inspection, which may have prevented the near-miss. When it comes to equipment operations, safety starts before you use the equipment!

What is a Pre-Shift Inspection?

Equipment, such as lift trucks, must be inspected prior to each use. There are other inspections that must be carried annually, but the pre-use inspection deserves attention because it’s the one that must be carried out every day, every shift, by every worker that uses the equipment.

Document Inspections

All inspections must be documented. Any deficiencies must be reported right away to the supervisor. Deficiencies are anything that could make, or do make, the equipment unsafe to operate. For example, a broken fork is an obvious deficiency. It’d be hard to miss a fork that’s completely broken off, but what about a hairline crack at the base? To ensure that nothing is missed, and everything is documented, use a pre-use inspection checklist.

How to Use a Pre-Use Inspection Checklist

Pre-use inspection checklists should list everything that needs to be inspected. There are four inspection descriptions that should appear on a pre-use inspection checklist, including:

Satisfactory (Checkmark): Use a checkmark when the inspection component is free from deficiency.

Deficiency (X): Use this mark if there is any noticeable deficiency or suspected deficiency. Deficiencies represent hazards. Deficiencies must be corrected before the equipment can return to service.

Not Applicable (N/A): Use this mark if the item in the list is not applicable to your equipment.

Recommendation (R): Use this mark if you make a recommendation to accompany the deficiency. For example, a recommendation may be to remove equipment from service.

To conduct a pre-use inspection, go through the checklist items, checking each component as you go. Pre-use inspections are sometimes called circle checks, and there’s a good reason for that. To do a pre-use inspection and use the checklist effectively, it makes the most sense to choose a starting point such as the front right tire, and then move clockwise around the equipment, checking each item on the list as you go.

Pre-use inspections are done daily, prior to use. If there is more than one shift, this inspection occurs at the start of each shift. But, pre-use inspections are not the only required inspections.

Annual Inspections

These occur once yearly, to do an in-depth inspection. This is generally carried out by a competent person under the supervision of an engineer competent in the mechanics of the equipment. Stickers (usually next to the capacity plate) must be updated with the date the inspection was completed. A record of the inspection that states what was done must also be retained.

A lifting capacity inspection must occur with the annual inspection. This test ensures that the equipment is capable of lifting the maximum load indicated on the capacity plate. The test is performed by a competent person, and a record of the test results must also be retained.

Unscheduled Inspections

These inspections occur when there is real or suspected damage, an accident or near miss, or a malfunction. The inspection process will vary depending on why the unscheduled inspection is needed.

Use Equipment Safely