When it comes to purchasing a new truck, it is operator visibility that tops most forklift buyers’ wish lists. Indeed, in a recent pan-European study, 62 per cent of respondents named operator visibility as the most critical factor in their truck buying decision – ahead of reliability, stability and operating costs.
“And for good reason,” says Mike Jones, General Manager of Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks UK, following his presentation at the National Fork Truck Safety Conference in September.
”When your trucks are lifting loads to heights of three or four metres – and often more – visibility isn’t just desirable, it is absolutely crucial. Your workers are exposed to real risks from falling items if the operator isn’t in total control of every movement.”
Accident statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show that, between 2001 and 2009, 938 forklift drivers and 1200 of their colleagues were killed or sustained injuries requiring hospitalisation – including amputations – as a result of objects falling from forklift trucks.
“Each of these involves personal and commercial tragedies,” explains Mike. “That’s why the field of visibility is extremely high on the Mitsubishi agenda. Our designers’ focus in this area has led to the development of some truly revolutionary technologies, such as Visionmast which was created for our warehouse range.
“By employing radical ‘hot extrusion’ technology, our design team were able to achieve a mast construction, which allowed designers to enclose a truck’s hydraulic cylinders within the profile of a mast’s first stage. The result is exceptional visibility.”
However, the manufacturer’s most remarkable achievement in this field can be found in its award-winning Hi-Vis overhead guard roof, which was developed for use with the GRENDIA family of 1.5 to 5.5 tonne IC engine trucks.
Mike Jones says: “Traditionally, operators have been protected from falling objects by metal bars in the roof of the overhead guard. Although these structures form an effective barrier to larger objects, they do very little to stop smaller items. What’s more, they can present a significant obstacle to operator visibility.
“Over the years, many companies have tried to tackle this with varying degrees of success. We, ourselves, pioneered the use of angled bars to maximise visibility of a raised load. However, by employing a specially developed polycarbonate, which is around 250 times stronger than glass and 30 times that of acrylic glass (PMMA), Mitsubishi has achieved something special. I think it’s a real game changer.”
The revolutionary design – which complies with both ISO6055:2004 and ISO12100 – addresses primary and secondary safety concerns. While offering operators a wholly unobstructed view to the forks, it also provides unprecedented protection against small but potentially dangerous falling items such as bolts.
Significantly. earlier this year, the GRENDIA Hi-Vis overheard guard was announced winner of the FLTA Award for Safety – making Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks the first company to hold an ‘Archie’ in every product category including Environment, Ergonomics, Safety and Innovation. The honour is the sixth in the event’s 17-year history.
For more information on award-winning Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks product range, visit www.mitsubishi-forklifts.co.uk today.