Forklift Safety: How to Conduct a Brake Inspection

December 11, 2020

Two male forklift operators checking functionality of forklift safety features

Knowing how to perform a proper brake inspection is critical to workplace safety. Failure of forklift safety features can lead to dangerous accidents and even death. Make sure all operators are informed of proper forklift safety procedures before using material handling equipment.

OSHA standards require operators to perform a daily pre-operational inspection on all forklift equipment. One key area of focus is safety features, which includes forklift brakes. In addition to the pre-operational assessment, an in-depth brake inspection should be conducted regularly to ensure proper functionality.

Luckily, we’ve created guidelines for checking your forklift brakes. Forklift Inventory is your go-to resource for everything forklift-related. We’ll guide you through a proper brake inspection and give you tips and tricks for maintaining your forklift brakes.

Ensure forklift safety at your workplace with these guidelines.

How to Perform a Brake Inspection

Your daily pre-operational check should assess forklift functionality. During this inspection, press on the brake pedal to ensure that it works and has enough resistance to create a safe stopping distance. Brakes should respond without much pressing. Also, test the forklift parking brake to make sure it can hold a 15 percent grade.

In addition to the pre-operational check, you’ll need to regularly perform a more in-depth brake inspection. This means you’ll need to understand the major parts of the brakes in order to recognize wear and damage.

Forklift brakes are composed of a brake drum and brake shoes. When the brake pedal is pressed, the brake shoes are pushed up against the brake drum. The friction between these two brake parts slows and stops the forklift.

Over time, the brake lining, which is the part of the brake drum that is forced against the shoes, will wear down. Regularly perform a visual brake inspection of the brake shoes through the wheel hubs to ensure that they aren’t too worn.

Also, invest in routine forklift maintenance. Every 250 hours of operation, you should have the brake dust blown out. Dust and debris get caught inside brake parts, which can create ridges on the brake shoes.

In addition, every 2,000 hours you should have a professional inspect the brake drums. Forklift maintenance will prevent expensive repairs in the future. Brakes aren’t necessarily cheap, so extending their life will help keep money in your pocket.

How Long Should My Brakes Last?

Forklift brakes have an average lifespan of 5,000 to 7,000 hours. Warehouse driving patterns affect this range. For instance, if operators drive farther without encountering obstacles or stacking loads, they will utilize the brakes less.

Forklift maintenance also plays a huge role in your brakes’ lifespan. Taking care of your equipment will save you money down the road. Be sure to schedule routine forklift maintenance for all of your material handling equipment.

Common Causes for Forklift Brake Failure

If your equipment is constantly in the shop for brake repair, the problem may come down to forklift operation. Here are some common errors that can lead to damaged forklift brakes:

1. Driving with the forklift parking brake applied.

Simply put, the forklift parking brake should only be used when the equipment is not in motion. Apply the parking brake to ensure stability when operating hydraulic controls or parking.

Driving with the forklift parking brake engaged will wear it down quickly.

2. Driving two-footed.

Only use your right foot to operate the forklift pedals. Driving “two-footed” with one foot on each pedal typically leads to partially engaged brakes. Even if the forklift brakes aren’t fully activated, slight pressure still rubs away the brake lining, speeding up the process of wear.

3. Braking too hard.

Driving too fast and braking too hard are also common culprits. Not to mention they are clear violations of forklift safety procedures. It’s important to give the forklift enough time to decelerate before it comes to a complete stop. This means pressing the brake pedal slowly and with care.

Counterbalance forklift parked in an empty warehouse

General Forklift Safety

No matter how well you take care of your brakes, your forklift safety may still be compromised. Check all of your forklift’s safety features regularly. If your forklift is in the shop more than it’s in use, it may be time for a replacement. Once your forklift maintenance costs exceed the cost of ownership, you’ll start losing money.

If you’re ready for an upgrade, find high-quality equipment with Forklift Inventory. We carry the largest inventory of new and used forklifts for sale nationwide.

Simply let us know what forklift type you need and we’ll match you with free quotes on a variety of options in your area. Compare forklifts from different dealers and manufacturers online to find the best deal today with Forklift Inventory.

Enhance Workplace Safety with High-Quality Equipment.

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