Simple Steps to Operating a Forklift Safely

As the majority of my career has involved forklifts, I decided to do a mini-series of blog posts about forklifts. This is part 1.

A forklift is a heavy machine that requires proper handling in for the purposes of safety. Workplace Health, as well as safety, is important whenever machines are handled on site. This article will provide some useful guidelines to handling safety and ensuring the site where the forklift is used is safe.

Forklift Danger
Do not try this at home. Or anywhere else for that matter!

Qualification of Operators

  • Individuals who operate a forklift should be fully trained.
  • Additionally, they should have a license or certification required to operate the machine.

Appropriate Clothing

  • The supervisor needs to ensure that the operators of a forklift have on appropriate safety work gear. They include safety shoes, a hard hat, gloves and jackets that have high visibility.
  • The gear that is worn must be well fitting as any loose clothing is likely to get caught while operating a forklift.
  • Operators need to ensure that they do not operate the machine with any grease on their hands. They are likely to slip, and this may cause a fatal accident.

Examine Forklift machine before use

  • A routine check should be required of the operator before use of the forklift. Operators should ensure they check, controls, steering, warning devices, mast and tires.
  • In case of any problems, the management needs to be notified on the required repairs and the machine should not be operated.

Starting up the forklift

  • The operator should ensure that they make use of the hand grabs and step and steps in order to seat themselves appropriately on the forklift.
  • Before starting up the forklift, the operator needs to ensure that all the controls are within his or her reach, and the mirrors are well adjusted for safety purposes when operating the machine.
  • Until the operator is safely inside the cabin of the forklift and their seat belt fastened they should not start the machine as this is likely to cause an accident.

Surrounding Environment

  • The operator needs to be very conscious of the surrounding environment. Additionally, any worksite rules should be adhered to strictly in for safety purposes.
  • The operator needs to ensure that they only drive the machine one the designated roadway.
  • Observe all signs, especially those that have to do with clearance heights and floor loadings.
  • The operator needs to ensure that they are aware of the mast, overhead guard and the height of the load when exiting or entering building.
  • When operating a machine at the edge of a ramp or loading dock, a lot of precision and care is required as the forklift may tip over the edge.
  • Do not operate on bridge plates unless you are sure they can manage the load that you are carrying. The operator should read any signs that show the load capacity that can pass over a bridge plate or ask the supervisor if they are unsure.
  • Install blue forklift safety lights for all your machines to warn pedestrians about approaching traffic.


Operate at a safe speed

  • The operator of a forklift should never go past the speed limit as this may cause an accident.
  • Any turns or changes in direction need to be done at a slow speed to ensure safety.

Avoid Hazards

  • Operators need to steer clear of bumps, slippery conditions or rugged surfaces on the site that they operate.
  • Keep a safe distance from other forklifts or tracks on the site.
  • Use the horn when turning a corner to ensure pedestrians or workmen on site and other forklift drivers.
  • Ensure your load is safe and secure.
  • Operator should ensure they have clear visibility.
  • The operator should ensure that they only use the forklift for carrying loads only. They should avoid carrying other passengers.
  • The operator should ensure the forklift is not overloaded.
  • There should be even distribution of the load. This way, it does not tip over or cause damage to the machine.
  • Once the shift is over, the forklift should be parked in its designated area, and the operator should ensure that the forks are lowered to the floor, and the machine turned off. The key to the forklift should then be handed to the appropriate office.


These are some of the main things to consider when operating a forklift. With this safety tips and guides, you are assured that your work go on smoothly without a problem.

Read More