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5 tips for forklift safety

Forklifts – also called powered industrial trucks or lift trucks – are mainly used to move materials. Forklifts are less stable and heavier than cars, making it crucial to follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements to specially train employees how to operate forklifts safely. Our tips can help.


1Prepare to drive

Always wear your seat belt. Keep arms, legs, head, and feet inside the driver's compartment. Make sure dock plates are secure before driving over them. Don’t let unauthorized drivers onto the forklift or let it be used for horseplay.

2Operate smoothly

Avoid sharp turns. Travel slowly, at a speed that will let you bring the forklift to a stop safely. A forklift going 10 mph takes about 22 feet to come to a full stop on a dry surface. Be extra careful on wet surfaces.

3Carry correctly

Make sure the load is within rated limits and that you’re using the right lift fixture for the load type. Carry the load low and tilted back – forklifts can tip over when their loads are high. According to OSHA, overturns are the main cause of forklift fatalities. Before unloading, make sure the area is clear and position the load to the correct height.

4Watch for pedestrians

Give pedestrians the right of way, and signal to them using your horn and lights. Use wall and ceiling mirrors to see around corners. Keep a clear view to avoid pedestrians or obstacles. Always look before backing up and use a spotter. Never let anyone ride, walk, or stand under raised forks.

5Park properly

To park your forklift, lower the forks and put controls in neutral. Then turn off the engine, check the parking brake, and remove the key. Don’t park on an incline. Always park in an approved location when you leave the forklift unattended.


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Last updated: 6/1/2018