Operating a Forklift Safely : Part 2

As the majority of my career has involved forklifts, I decided to do a mini-series of blog posts about forklifts. This is part 2.

Forklift safety is very crucial, especially when you are dealing with aerial lifts such as scissor lifts and boom lifts. When working in an environment with forklifts, some basic safety tips may come in handy. While forklifts are usually designed with safety in mind, they have been found to cause a few accidents every year due to falls, collapses or tip-overs. Fortunately, it is possible to avoid these accidents, if only you maintain the standard safety precautions and ascertain the forklift operator has proper certification from a forklift train the trainer course

– Always maintain a distance of about ten feet away from any obstructions, such as electrical wires that may get in the way and cause the worker to trip over. If it is necessary for the worker to work in close proximity to any of these things, observe precautionary measures to keep him safe while on the forklift. In addition, never linger around, stroll close to or climb onto elevated forks in case of a sudden move.

-When carrying a load, ensure that it is centered as accurately as possible. In addition, make sure that the heaviest part of the load is as close to the front as possible for forklift safety. Handling a load that is not centered can be difficult, and if you fail to position its heavier portion at the front, it could tip over. As a general thumb of rule, the forklift should always be able to handle the load being exerted on it, and not more.

-Never load the machine beyond its maximum capacity, otherwise you may risk breaking the lift or causing an accident. When approaching a load, always ascertain the load is directly in front of the forklift, not too far or too near.

-No unauthorized person should be allowed near the forklift, even if they claim to know how to operate it. There is a reason for training and qualification; do not undermine the system. Moreover, unless the machine is designed for multiple persons, never allow anyone else inside the cockpit when you are operating it.

-Before driving the lift between two points, despite the distance between them, make sure you lower it completely. Driving over uneven terrain or on inclines is especially dangerous as it causes the weight of the load to shift to one side, leading to tip overs.

-Do not tilt the forks forward while driving as this could destabilize the load and/or cause the forklift to become unstable itself. When using the forklift to raise workers to at an elevated site, make sure that the forklift you are using was specifically designed with an inbuilt platform to support human life.

-Some forklifts are not people friendly, and a worker may lose their footing on a standing area or platform that is unstable and is not secure enough to protect against falling incidents.

-It is always advisable to check the overhead when lifting a load, for clearance. Make sure that the overhead is free of any lights, pipes or sprinklers that could be damaged by the load being raised.

-In addition, always conduct your standard personal safety routine on a daily basis before using your forklift. Make use of the forklift safety gear to ensure the protection of both the operator and workers on the site.

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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.

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