How safe is it to operate forklifts? What precautions should you take before operating them?

Forklifts are essential tools in warehouses and factories. They lift loads weighing thousands of pounds and move them from one place to another.

Forklifts are also used in construction sites and other industries where they are required to transport heavy materials.

Operating forklifts during any time of the day can be perfectly safe if you are operating them correctly. However, you do need to be aware of safety precautions to avoid them from happening.

For example, forklifts are safer to use in the day when it is bright and others are around. The risk of accidents increases significantly when working at night because workers are tired and distracted.

Let’s dive right into some safety tips that you should be aware of before getting behind the wheel of a forklift.

Forklift Safety Tips

1. Make Sure That You Have The Correct Certification

Before you get your license for operating a forklift, make sure that you have the correct certification.

There are different certifications available depending on what type of forklift you want to operate. For example, there are Class A, B, etc. Certifications.

Poor training is a very common cause of forklift related injuries. You should ensure that your training has been done correctly with the OSHA standards in place.

When operating a forklift, you should always be responsible. Is your training up to date? If not, ask for a refresher course.

Don’t wait for your bosses to come to you with training opportunities. You know best whether you need more training or not.

A lack of training could cause a nasty incident, so be smart about your training levels.

2. Check The Forklift For Defects Before Every Use

If you’re going to use a forklift, make certain that it is in good condition.

Check all parts of the machine including the tires, brakes, steering mechanism, transmission, and engine. These are just some of the things that you should check before using it.

Before every use make sure that your supervisor carries out a check of your equipment with you.

This will ensure that you note any defects before operating the vehicle. If you spot any issues, do not use the forklift until it has been repaired.

Here is a list of things that you should check on your forklift before turning on the ignition:

  • The control panel, such as lights, brakes, steering, and horn
  • Overhead guard
  • Any leaks underneath such as water or oil
  • Ensure tires are fully pumped up
  • Fluid levels are topped up
  • No damage on the forks
  • Any other potential hazards that you spot

It is important to note that a defective part may cause an accident. It is better to find out now than later. Check over the entire forklift then get your supervisor to do the same.

Again, don’t use the forklift again until anything you’re not happy with has been rectified.

3. Wear The Correct Attire

When operating a forklift, wear the appropriate attire. Wearing protective clothing is essential.

Be careful not to expose yourself to any unnecessary risks while driving your forklift. Always wear a helmet and eye protection.

Wear gloves to protect your hands from being injured by moving parts. Wear shoes that are comfortable and durable.

Avoid wearing loose fitting clothes that can catch on objects. Also avoid wearing jewelry or watches that might fall off during operation.

4. Pay Attention To The Floor Markings

Whenever you’re using forklifts in a building site, there needs to be floor markings to protect the workers.

Yellow markings should be in place wherever there are physical hazards so that the drivers do not go near them without the knowledge of potential hazards.

Red markings are to map out fire hazards. Make sure that you pay attention to these markings to avoid any incidents happening.

Another thing to look out for is wayfinders. These should be used to allow pedestrians to walk a safe distance away from the forklifts to avoid any issues.

If there are no wayfinders up, put them up immediately to avoid anyone getting hurt.

5. Stick To The Maximum Capacity

The maximum capacity of a forklift is one of the most important safety features. When you exceed this limit, you run the risk of damaging the load or even injuring someone.

There are many different types of loads that you can carry on a forklift. You need to know what type of load you have before you decide how much weight you can safely lift.

If you have a pallet jack, always remember that you cannot overload it. Keep in mind that you must also keep the load level when lifting heavy items. Overloading can lead to accidents and injuries.

Another common issue is people giving others a ride on their forklift. Forklifts typically only have one seat fitted for a reason. If another person needs to ride with you, make sure that a second seat is fitted.

Exceeding the maximum capacity for both equipment and people can make the forklift unstable and make for a very dangerous situation.

6. Don’t Speed

Speed limits are set for good reasons. They ensure that everyone’s safety is protected. Speeding can cause accidents and injuries. This is why speed limits are strictly enforced.

You should never drive faster than the posted speed limit. Doing so can result in accidents and injuries. Even if you think you’ll be able to stop quickly enough, you could still end up causing an incident.

Don’t attempt any quick movements on a forklift as they can become unstable very quickly. Instead, make turns slowly and always drive much more cautiously than you would do in a car.

Speeding is never smart, but it holds a load more risks when being carried out in a forklift.

7. Stay Away From Others

When driving around other vehicles, stay clear of them. Always give yourself plenty of space between you and other cars and trucks. This helps prevent collisions.

Make sure that you don’t have anything blocking your view of other vehicles. This includes things like trees and bushes.

Your vision will be blocked by these objects which makes it difficult to see other vehicles.

Staying away from others doesn’t just apply to other vehicles, however. It also applies to other people and working equipment. Don’t use your forklift too close to anything else that could get damaged.

8. Keep Your Forklift Fuelled

Fuel tanks hold a lot of fuel. A full tank means that you can drive for longer without having to refuel. However, empty tanks mean that you’re forced to refuel sooner.

It’s best to fill up your forklift every two weeks. This gives you a chance to check the oil levels and top-up the tank.

Make sure that you check the oil levels regularly. In addition, you should perform regular maintenance checks on your vehicle.

9. Avoid Nearby Hazards

Hazards such as potholes, road debris, and large rocks can damage your forklift. These hazards can easily knock over your vehicle. Be careful not to place your forklift near these dangers.

10. Park Your Forklift Correctly After Every Shift

If you park your forklift incorrectly, you may risk damaging your vehicle or injuring someone. Parking your forklift correctly ensures that it’s safe to operate.

Parking your forklift at the correct angle prevents it from tipping over. You should also park your forklift using the correct method.

Always keep the forklift in neutral while parked to avoid anyone else having an accident when starting the ignition again.


These are some basic tips to follow when operating a forklift. You should take note of all the points mentioned above.

Following these simple rules will help you to avoid getting into accidents with your forklift.

We hope that you learned something useful. Remember, always be smart when using a forklift. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t get behind the wheel. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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