Renowned across a range of industries for being strong and versatile material movers, telehandlers have long been established as a must-have in construction, manufacturing, agriculture and more. They are able to move difficult loads across uneven terrain and place them high or low in hard to reach places.
Unlike the forklift truck, a telehandler is stable and manoeuvrable in a variety of environments. This guide addresses how you can safely use a telehandler to transport loads across your site.
1. The Operators
First and foremost, the telehandler’s operators should be fully trained and well versed in the safe operation of telehandlers. It is up to these guys to carry out and supervise the lifts and manoeuvres so ensure they are up to the job.
Many firms simply do not have the budget to invest in a new telehandler and so telehandler hire is a popular way of accessing these pieces of kit. As a result, some firms do not have dedicated telehandler operators and let partially or even completely untrained individuals take charge. This poses a serious safety hazard and could result in a serious accident on your site.
There are a number of courses around; the most widely recognised being the CPCS Red and Blue cards. Note – there is a legal requirement for telehandler operators to have received adequate training. This is set out in the HSE Approved Code of Practise L117 for those looking for more information.
2. The Attachments
Before any lift is attempted the telehandler’s attachments should be securely fitted in line with the user guide and manual. A trained operator should carry out this step, ensuring a suitable attachment is fitted for the job in hand.
Each attachment comes with its own requirements. If using forks, for example, the prongs should be positioned as wide apart as possible in order to evenly distribute any load.
Follow the manufacturers guide for attachment-specific information.
3. Securing the Load
The next step is to carefully secure the load. This is of paramount important and particular care should be taken if you are lifting the load down from a hard to reach location.
Before the transportation begins the load should be carefully secured, using straps or bags if necessary. The load should be carefully positioned in or on the attachment to distribute the load and once in place, the attachment should be tilted back slightly to reduce the risk of spills or an imbalance.
The boom and attachment should be brought into a position that allows the operator a clear line of sight and does not restrict the view of the telehandler’s mirrors. The boom should be withdrawn in order to bring the centre of gravity in as close as possible and reduce the chance of an imbalance.
4. During the Operation
It is often sensible to use a spotter or supervisor whilst transporting loads with a telehandler. They are able to identify hazards, such as pedestrians or uneven terrain, which the driver may not immediately spot.
The path the telehandler navigates down should be predetermined, clearly marked out and free of pedestrians to reduce the risk of a collision. Everyone present on site should be made aware that telehandlers are in operation – particularly visitors. Pedestrians should wear high-vis clothing.
The driver should keep speed to a minimum, particularly when traversing over uneven or unstable terrain.
Whilst travelling, the boom should be kept as close to the cab as possible whilst allowing the driver a clear line of sight of the road or site.
Finally, the unloading should take place in a clearly marked area that is also free of pedestrians, other than supervisors or those carrying out the unloading process. Take particular care when reversing the telehandler as this is when accidents typically occur. Supervisors or spotters are very useful in this situation.
Once the telehandler has stopped travelling it may be necessary to put down stabilisers if the ground is uneven or the load is to be extended out any considerable distance. Place the load in the necessary spot and remove the straps or bags.