A falling object protective structure (FOPS) most commonly called an Overhead Guard, is designed to deflect or absorb the impact of falling objects or debris. They are a very important safety device and are required on all high lift trucks. It must be clearly understood that the guards capacity is limited, they are not rated to the trucks capacity, a 5000 lb capacity truck overhead guard cannot stop 5000 lb and protect the operator. As part of the daily inspection of a forklift, check the overhead guard for broken welds, missing bolts or other damage.
While we are on the subject of overhead guards, lets talk about a couple other important safety rules regarding them. Living in the Greater Vancouver area we are subject to long months of rain and operators are always putting something over top of the guards to protect them from getting wet. I have seen everything from cardboard to saran wrap. This is not allowed as you are obstructing your view and line of site when conducting high lifts. The only thing allowed is Plexiglas as it is clear, but keep in mind that you must keep it clean at all times.
Over head guards and rollovers…yes these machines can rollover if not driven safely and properly. Operators have been injured and even killed by the guard in rollover accidents, human instinct in this situation is to jump/get out of the machine, but you are jumping out the same way its rolling and have the potential for the guard itself to hit or crush you. In a rollover situation..STAY IN THE MACHINE! Hopefully you have your seat-belt on, even if you don’t, position your hands on top of the steering wheel, head down, and brace yourself the opposite way of the roll. You may walk away with a head or shoulder injury but you are walking away.
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