This packet looks safe enough to move – right?
Look at it. Is it square? No! Which means it cannot be picked up on forks alone…
DO PAY ATTENTION YOU IDIOT!!!
The gentle art of ‘bumping out’, or delivering a load of bricks or blocks etc on any building site, is a relatively straightforward affair, providing you follow a few simple rules when engaging in the potentially dangerous operation.
Let’s talk about how to do it the correct way…
Say a gang of brickies want a whole packet of bricks placed on the loading bay they’re using, be it down on the kicker lift on the ground, or high up on the second or third lifts of the building. Providing they are going to use all the bricks in the packet, and the packet is undamaged, there is no need to put it on a pallet. But if they only want one or two bands of bricks, then a pallet normally has to be used.
To achieve the desired outcome, first of all your telescopic must be powerful enough to handle the weight, with enough reach to deliver the load to the relative safety of the loading bay.
Most of the smaller telescopic forklifts have no counterbalance weight at the rear and some are even minus hydraulic feet at the front. In the case of the two dilapidated telescopic’s Steve and I used, they were both minus any counterbalance weight or feet. So ‘operation controlled crash’ was always the norm.
First you find out which bricks the particular gang want, and then you drive to the appropriate stack. Once you have turned your telescopic to face the front of the stack, stopping with the tips of your forks a few inches in front of the packet in question, you get out of your vehicle and adjust the width of your forks to suit the holes in the packet (a job that should be done using hydraulic pressure from inside the safety cab in my opinion).
Once back inside your cab, you gently raise the boom and the forks, until the tips of the forks are level with the holes, and then slowly extend the boom, carefully piercing the packet before lifting it bodily and retracting it for travelling to the desired area.
Are you with me so far? Good.
The next step is to slowly and carefully drive across the site, keeping one eye on the state of the surface you are travelling across, avoiding the inevitable dropped bricks etc and the other eye on your wobbling load, while constantly adjusting the angle of your vehicle to keep the load level until you reach your destination.
Not bored yet? Great!
Next you turn your telescopic through 90° to face the loading bay, assuming that you have a clear area in front of the packet your carrying, to do so. More often than not you don’t. Then you begin the next step – the actual lift.
To achieve the desired effect, if your telescopic has them, first you lower the hydraulic feet, which when fully extended, lifts the front of the telescopic off the ground leaving your front wheels suspended in mid-air, thus creating a sturdy, stationary platform by shifting the centre of gravity and weight of the load back towards you the forky, all the while, levelling the whole thing assisted by a multi-directional spirit level usually situated on the dash of the safety cab.
Still with me? Good, I’m glad to see you’re finally paying attention!
Next you slowly raise the boom until it is at about a 60 – 70° angle, placing the heavy, fully retracted load, above the roof of your cab. Then you begin extending the boom slowly under engine power, at the same time constantly adjusting the boom’s angle while paying special attention to the angle of the forks and your load, to ensure that the underside of the load is a few inches above, and roughly parallel to, the loading bay’s upper surface. If done correctly, what you are doing is describing an ‘S shaped’ arc through the air as the load heads for its destination – picture a rising serpent about to strike. Under no circumstances do you take your eyes off the load until it is where it’s supposed to be, or until your forks are slightly above the loading bay.
We’re now ready for the next bit.
To extract your forks or retrieve something from the loading bay, is a little trickier. Extraction is essentially the same operation you’ve just completed, only in reverse. A lot of the older vehicles, no matter how softly you try to operate them, always tend to jerk; this is especially noticeable when the boom is at full stretch. A one inch movement where you are in the cab is roughly equal to several feet of potential swaying disaster at the other end!
If this happens, don’t hesitate, take your hands away and get your foot off the accelerator and let the whole thing stop wobbling and swaying! Otherwise you will begin to experience the pendulum effect with that heavy load high up in the air, swinging on the end of the boom, which I guarantee will get progressively worse if you try to continue, resulting in complete and utter disaster!
Take a deep breath and slowly begin again, all the while trying to coordinate the revs of the engine with gentle movement of your right hand on the boom joystick control to achieve a smooth one step extraction of the forks from the packet of bricks. Once the tips of the forks are free and clear, the rest is simple.
Still with me? Brilliant, we’ll make a ‘forky’ out of you yet!
If your retrieving a half used pallet of bricks or some other object, great care is absolutely essential. You have the potential to totally destroy the scaffolding as well as the loading bay, not to mention placing everyone in the immediate area in grave danger! Watch those fork tips at all times and with a little care and gentle movements of the controls, you will successfully pick up the load from the loading bay.
By the way, there is one thing you can rely on when dealing with these retrievals folks; you can guarantee that the beggars up on the lift have just thrown everything loosely onto the pallet, so be prepared to be bombarded with falling objects, like loose bricks, roof tiles, cinder blocks, concrete blocks, even whole rolls of roofing felt, as you carefully retract the boom; moments like that make you glad your inside the safety cab!
Oh, there was one more thing I forgot to mention, the smug B’s will always stand there on their lofty perches with their arms folded while shaking their heads and tut tutting to themselves as you restack the load before departure. In their eyes they’re infallible. On the other hand, to them you’re simply the site forky. Any sub-contractor will constantly remind you, that everyone knows a trained monkey could do your job. Wrong! Although in Steve’s case, I’m still not so sure. Now lets get back to the correct way shall we?
The job requires your undivided concentration. It may not be exactly physically tiring, but by the end of an eight to ten hour shift you’re usually knackered from sheer mental exhaustion!
I can’t stress this enough – you have got to have eyes like a hawk, not to mention needing eyes in the back of your head to operate a telescopic on a building site. Despite the average size of one, you would think they’re invisible the way people constantly run under your load or down your blind side, or even worse, behind you when you are backing with your reversing alarm screaming out a warning!
I know of one instance when one poor bloke was run over by a reversing telescopic! Fortunately for him and all concerned, he’s still alive. Although the injuries he sustained beneath those large, heavily moulded, rubber all terrain wheels, made a hell of a mess of him by quite literally ripping his skin off, and putting him in hospital for a long time. The poor unfortunate young forky concerned was badly shaken up over the incident, I doubt he’ll ever forget it!
Next time bumping out part two, or rather how not to do it…