13 Tips to Safely Operate a Forklift

By April 18, 2019 Safety

A forklift is a powered truck used to carry, lift, stack or tier materials. They include pallet trucks, rider operated forklifts, fork trucks, or lift trucks. Employees have legal duties to use work equipment in a safe manner in line with procedures developed by their employer. The following are some tips to ensure safety while operating this extensive machinery.  Of course, these tips are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for any training required by an employer, equipment manufacturer, property owner or local municipality.

  1. Be sure the operators are properly certified
  • Operating a forklift could be quite dangerous without proper training. It is imperative to receive an operating license before working with a forklift
  1. Wear appropriate workplace clothing
  • Operators must wear safety gear such as a hard hat, close toed shoes and bright, high visibility jackets while operating a forklift.
  • The gear should be reasonably fitted to the body. Any loose clothing can get caught on machinery and result in injury.
  • Be sure your hands are clean and dry while controlling the forklift. Wet or greasy hands could slide off the knobs and result in an accident.
  1. Inspect and examine equipment before use
  • Operators should do a routine check of the equipment before operation.  Some key components that should be checked regularly are brakes, steering, controls, warning devices, and tires.
  • If there is any damage or problems seen, management should be notified immediately and the forklift should not be used. Notifying management will prevent further employees from using the machinery and potentially prevent accidents from occurring.
  • Always think about the path necessary before picking up the necessary load. Be sure to consider which way will be easiest to pick up as well as put down load.
  1. Starting the forklift
  • Use the steps as well as the handrails to sit in the forklift safely, even if you think you may be large enough to get in without the assistance.
  • Be sure that you can reach all of the equipment’s controls and the seat position and mirrors are adjusted to the individual operators height.
  • All parts of the body should be inside the forklift. Do not start the forklift until seated and strapped in.
  1. Be aware of the surrounding environment
  • Give your undivided attention while operating the forklift. Stay away from distractions and be sure to follow any additional rules that may come from the particular work site.
  • Drive only on designated paths or roadways.
  • Take note of any signs around you such as maximum permitted floor loadings and clearance heights.
  • Keep a safe distance for edges of loading docks or ramps- the forklift has potential to tip over the edge.
  1. Operate at a safe speed
  • Never operate faster than the given speed limit.
  • Take turns and corners slowly to minimize risk of tipping.
  1. Avoid hazards
  • Steer clear of any bumps or uneven ground surfaces as well as floors  with slippery conditions.
  • Stay away from loose ground objects which could cause loss of control over the equipment or a load to move around.
  • Use the horn when closing in on a corner or doorway. This alerts pedestrians or other forklift operators of your whereabouts to avoid any collision.
  • Keep a safe and far distance from other trucks in case they move in an unpredictable manner.
  1. Ensure your load is stable and secure
  • Check the load carefully for stability and damage before moving it.
  • It is important to ensure that the load is tilted back with the fork sits low while transporting to increase the trucks stability.
  • Do not lift or move loads that are not safe or stable.
  • Make sure loads are correctly stacked and positioned with equal weight across both forks.
  • Stack the load on a pallet or skid safely.
  • Use securing measures such as ropes or bindings if necessary.
  1. Make sure you have clear visibility
  • Operate the forklift in reverse if visibility is stronger, the large load in front of you may obstruct your view.
  • Always drive forward when moving up ramps.
  • It is important to make sure you can see the dock in which you are placing the load.
  • If visibility is poor do not continue driving; in some circumstances you may need someone to guide you to your destination.
  1. Forklifts are for carrying loads only
  • Operators must not let others ride on the equipment unless another seat is fitted safely to the forklift for a second person.
  • If a person has to be lifted, use only a securely attached work platform and cage and follow the appropriate operating instructions.
  • The forklift is not a toy. Act responsibly.
  1. Ensure the forklift is not overloaded
  • Do not use the tip of the forks as a lever to raise a heavy load.
  • Do not push a load with the tip of the forks.
  • Know the size and weight limits of your forklift and any attachments being used and never exceed this capacity.
  • An overload can cause the rear tires to be raised off the ground and may cause the forklift to tip over.
  1. Refueling
  • A forklift should only be refueled at specially designated locations.
  • Switch the forklift to the off position before refueling.
  1. When the shift ends
  • After use, ensure the forklift is parked in a designated or authorized area.
  • Fully lower the forks to the floor and apply the park brake.
  • Turn the forklift “off” and remove the key.
  • Never leave a forklift unattended while running.

When operating heavy machinery, Frontier Industrial Corp ensures that the safety of their employees is number one and that all safety measures are followed on the job site every day.