Forklift Safety

By bsozak | April 27, 2016

cat-dp70-forkliftWhen operating a forklift it is important to follow all safety precautions. Forklifts are powerful tools that allow you to move, lift, and place heavy loads that you could otherwise not do alone. However, great risk is involved. Here you will learn the safe way to operate forklifts and avoid hazardous conditions.

The first step in forklift safety is that forklift operators must be trained. A forklift is very different than driving a car. Depending on the type of forklift an operator will be using will determine the type of training. In general, training will cover: operating instructions, warnings and precautions, controls and instrumentation, engine operating, steering, visibility, fork attachments, refueling, inspection and maintenance, and operating limitations. Your work environment will also train you on how to operate the forklift for certain surface conditions, pedestrian traffic, hazardous locations, ramps, and load stacking.

Once you have been fully trained on the type of forklift you will be operating and the conditions of your workplace, it is time to safely use the forklift. It is necessary to check the forklifts daily for any defects. Things to check are if the controls work smoothly, lights operating, and if the steering is responsive. For a pre-use inspection checklist click here. It is also important where you park your forklift. Don’t stop it in an unauthorized area, and make sure to set the parking brake. Always turn the key to OFF, stop the engine, remove the key, and slowly get off the forklift without jumping.operations_21

An important safety precaution is your surface condition. Some surfaces will have potholes, bumps, depressions, or a dirt surface that will cause you to lose control of your steering. Again, make sure you are trained of your work environment before operating a forklift so that you can avoid any of these safety problems.

While operating the forklift, make sure you are traveling at the operating speed. Tipovers can be caused by driving too fast, or a collision can be caused with a pedestrian if you can’t stop in time. Speed is also important while changing directions and turning too sharply. Never turn your forklift with your forks elevated. Before you change directions, make a complete stop and use a horn or light to warn pedestrians when reversing. When driving in reverse, be aware of visibility and allow plenty of room for pedestrians. Driving on an incline is also dangerous. Be aware of tipovers and never drive with the load downgrade. And as always with any moving vehicle, it is important to keep all arms and legs inside your forklift. For more information on these safety techniques click here.

Tipovers can occur if your forklift is improperly operated. A warning label is placed on your forklift that will show actions to take in the event of a tipover. There are two different types of tipovers in a forklift either a forward or longitudinal tip, and a lateral or side tip. Follow the required procedure determining on the type of tipover.


This post is contributed by MCFA, a manufacturer of Cat Lift Trucks. The are a trusted forklift brand for over 50 years that offers quality and reliable forklifts.

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