21 November 2016
It sounds like a verse or a game from our childhood, but also in a materials handling environment sometimes it is very true to "stay put where you are." A good example are lift truck drivers. If they - for whatever reason - get off their seat while the lift truck is still driving, then life-threatening situations can arise.
Even if the truck is standing still, it could be dangerous. For example, when the driver decides to get up and put his arm through the mast to straighten a pallet. Before you know, one of the mast levers may be touched unintentionally.
Not without reason the law requires forklift driver to wear a seatbelt. The belt or, in some countries, any other legally permissible tool that keeps the driver within the contours of the truck, ensures that the driver is not trapped when the truck tips over.
But also when there is no tipping danger, it is vital for a forklift driver to stay seated.
To increase safety, and to ensure that the driver stays seated while the truck is driving, forklift trucks are often equipped with a dead man’s switch or button. Usually, this is a switch under the seat. It switches immediately the power to the forklift truck off, when the driver gets out of the seat while driving. For example, a truck driver may get unwell. And the lift truck automatically stops in a safe way.
The smart dead man’s switch
The dead man’s switch on a forklift is not new safety feature. However, it is getting smarter. Take the PDS feature on Cat® lift trucks, for example. PDS stands for “Presence Detection System” . This advanced system makes – to put it simply - sure that the lift truck does not work if the driver is not in the driver’s seat. But there’s more. Not only will the lift truck not drive, but also all the hydraulic functions are disabled. PDS+ also includes a feature that prevents the undesirable rolling back of the truck, like on a ramp, and an automatic parking brake.