Forklifts are used daily on the job site and in warehouses by construction workers.  You are taught to drive at a safe speed, only lift the maximum load capacity and to be aware of your surroundings.  Often times forklift maintenance and inspections are overlooked and critical when they should be performed almost daily.

The US Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires regular inspections of all powered industrial trucks.  This means all forklifts, including warehouse lifts, rough terrain forklifts, narrow aisle lifts and pallet jacks should be checked daily.  These three key OSHA guidelines can help you lay out a safe forklift maintenance schedule:

  • Employees and employers must never knowingly drive a forklift that is known to be unsafe
  • All powered industrial trucks should be removed from active use and repairs are required to be undertaken by trained personnel
  • Forklifts should be clean, with no noticeable grease, dust, oil and other substances

Per OSHA rules, forklifts should be inspected daily or at least 3-4 times per week if the forklift isn’t used every day.

  1. Monitor all critical forklift operating systems, including the brakes, steering controls, backup alarms, safety mechanisms and tilt control.
  2. Ensure your maintenance personnel and employees always conduct a visual pre-check (mechanical inspections, harnesses, etc.) and operational pre-check (brakes, safety signals, cockpit controls) before each shift.  Forklift Certification has a forklift inspection checklist that adheres to OHSA maintenance requirements
  3. Encourage everyone to get involved with forklift maintenance and that the maintenance personnel and forklift operators are in constant communication
  4. Offer incentives for regular maintenance activities
  5. Post general maintenance requirements where everyone can see them

If any problems are discovered on the forklift, they must be reported and the forklift removed from service immediately.  If you do not have a pre-operational checklist for your forklift established, often times manufacturers provide sample checklists that can be customized.

Here are a few examples to include if you decide to create your own:

  • Check fluid levels
  • Check for leaks, cracks and visible defects all over the forklift
  • Check mast chains visually; avoid using your hands
  • Test mast chain tension by lifting the load backrest to eye level – the mast chains should be level and any tilting may signify stretching or broken rollers
  • Check tire condition, pressure and look for any punctures
  • Determine fork condition – check the top clip retaining pin and heel
  • Ensure load backrest extension functions properly
  • Check functionality of finger guards
  • Ensure safety decals and nameplates are legible and match the forklift model
  • Check the operators’ manual log book is present and legible
  • Ensure the operators’ manual compartment is clean
  • Test all functional safety devices (directional signals, backup alarms, seatbelts, horns)
  • Check the brakes steering controls and other operational items for proper function

By following the guidelines put into place by OSHA and your own company, you will be able to get into a routine for regular forklift maintenance.  Do not wait until your equipment is deemed unsafe or if OSHA comes for an audit to create or revise your forklift maintenance plan.  Frontier Industrial Corp puts the safety of their employees as their number one priority.  All of our equipment is thoroughly checked and maintained regularly to ensure that it is properly working for use on our job sites.