Your Complete Guide to Forklift Safety Cages
As one of the most popular forklift attachments on the market, Forklift Safety Cages (or non-integrated Working Platforms) provide an essential solution for unplanned and emergency work at height.
In this short guide, we talk about the core uses for a Forklift Safety Cage, when you can use them (and instances when you shouldn’t), plus the key features they should have, and how to get the most from your attachment.
How do Forklift Safety Cages work?
Working at height naturally poses a risk to health and safety, which is why Forklift Safety Cages are an ideal choice to have on site or in the workplace in case of any task that requires working at height in an unplanned or emergency manner. With simple fitment to the forks of your existing forklift (ensuring positive fixing is in place), the cages offer a quick, safe, and convenient way to transform your forklift truck into a mobile, people-carrying platform.
Which type of Forklift Safety Cage is right for you?
Forklift Safety Cages, or Working Platforms, usually fall into two categories; single person platforms and two person platforms. Both of these have the same built specification apart from the work platform size itself. The other distinction is the means of access, with some cages having gates access (all gates must also self-close and lock automatically), and fixed rail access, where the operator steps through the bars to access the platform.
When should you use a Forklift Safety Cage?
Forklift trucks (including reach trucks) were designed to primarily lift materials, and not people. However, Forklift Safety Cages provide a safe and secure means of access when the nature of the task is deemed unplanned or an emergency, enabling operators to work safely at a height. They should only be used in certain circumstances, for example when it provides a safe means of access such as improvised stairs, as a platform, or to avoid impractical use of a ladder.
- To carry out emergency repair work where such tasks, if not carried out, would immediately pose a risk to employee welfare
- Non-routine maintenance tasks where the frequency of occurrence is unplanned or scheduled
- For occasional use such as changing of overhead lightbulbs, roof lights or fittings (if not carried out as part of a routine or planned schedule)
- When a Forklift Safety Platform provides a safer means of access than portable ladders, scaffolding etc, when it is not possible to hire dedicated people lifting equipment due to the short duration of the task or its temporary nature (such as clearing a blocked gutter)
When shouldn’t you use a Forklift Safety Cage?
When tasks that require working at height become part of a routine programme of works or is planned, Forklift Access Platforms should not be used or relied on. Instead, a more permanent solution should be sought to ensure dedicated and purpose-built people lifting equipment is used. Examples of work that shouldn’t be done using a Forklift Safety Cage include:
- Scheduled stock-taking
- Periodic maintenance
What should you check when buying a Forklift Safety Cage?
When buying a Forklift Safety Cage, it’s vital to ensure that it complies with health and safety regulations, and that it is fit-for-purpose. You should check that it:
- Conforms to HSE Guidance Note PM28 (Fourth Edition) — Working Platforms (non-integrated) on forklift trucks
- Is clearly labelled with an identification plate showing the number of people it can accommodate along with its safe working load capacity, weight of the platform, suitable truck capacity etc
- Has a positive locking to the heel of the fork via twin heel retaining pins or an alternative securing method if heel pins are not possible (consult your truck manufacturer or supplier in this instance)
- Has a mesh back safety guard which protects the personnel’s fingers and limbs from the potentially dangerous working parts of the forklift truck, such as the mast and chains or moving parts of the forklift carriage
- Has safety hand rails and safety harness anchor points suitable for lanyard attachment
- Has self-closing and automatic locking gate mechanism which automatically shut and lock when the work platform is raised above the ground
- Non-slip floor tread with drain holes in the base, to remove the risk of potentially dangerous accumulation of water or other liquids
- Fork pockets that extend to at least 75% of the fork arm length
What are the risks of using a Forklift Safety Cage?
Although Forklift Safety Cages provide a safe means of access to tasks at height, there are risks that you should be aware of when using these man riding baskets — specifically relating to the very real nature of working at height. When doing this type of work, it’s vital that you undertake a risk assessment and safety evaluation, ensuring that any risks are mitigated, and precautions are taken whenever possible.
- Risks of overhead objects (falling or static) | Careful consideration should be given to what is above you when using a Forklift Safety Cage
- Shelves and racking | If the operator doesn’t work within the confined areas of the safety platform, there is a risk that a limb could be trapped in things like shelves and racking
- Stability | Despite being safely attached to forklift trucks, other considerations should be made such as the weather conditions and the stability of the forklift truck (the surface it is situated on)
- Operator errors | Precautions and considerations should be made whenever the truck operator is moving the forklift truck with the platform is attached to ensure it remains stable
(For a full and more detailed breakdown of the build specification for your required Forklift Safety Cage, please refer to the guidance note produced by HSE (Health & Safety Executive) entitled ‘Working platforms (non-integrated) on forklift trucks (Guidance Note PM28 Fourth Edition)).
How do you maintain a Forklift Safety Cage?
Like any piece of work equipment, Forklift Safety Cages should be inspected regularly to check for any visual signs of damage or wear and tear that may pose a threat to the safe operation of the attachment. Specific features such as ensuring the heel fixings are in place, and gates (where fitted) self-close and automatically lock when the platform is raised, should be checked as part of the scheduled inspections.
And, like any forklift attachment, a periodic Thorough Examination should be done on the Forklift Safety Cages to ensure that they remain safe to use and are fit-for-purpose. A label highlighting when the next Thorough Examination is due to be carried out should also be clearly displayed on the platform, to provide an easy way for operators and personnel to check it remains compliant.
If your organisation regularly requires working at height for emergency or unplanned work, a Forklift Safety Cage could be the ideal solution and could reduce costs of hiring equipment over the long-term. They will always remain a popular piece of equipment for this type of work and have their place within any business which needs a working at height contingency plan. But, they should be used in the correct way, comply with the appropriate certifications, and be regularly checked for ongoing safety.
If you’re at all unsure that your work requires a Forklift Safety Cage or whether you need something more permanent and purpose-built for personnel lifting, please do get in touch with a member of the team who can advise you on the best solution based on your needs.
With almost five decades of designing and manufacturing forklift attachments, we produce a range of platforms that can cater for your needs. For more information, please do browse our website or get in touch with a member of the team on 01686 611200 / [email protected], or talk to us on Live Chat.