The Do’s and Don’ts of Forklift Operators

Forklift operators deliver, move, load, and unload materials in warehouses, construction sites, and other industrial places. While forklifts make moving and lifting large and heavy objects easier, operators must follow best practices to stay safe and work efficiently. Read here to find out the do’s and don’ts of forklift operators.

Do: Inspect and Maintain the Forklift

A thorough pre-shift inspection protects operators and other workers and minimizes the likelihood of damaging goods. Inspections also optimize the forklift’s performance.

This OSHA-mandated task typically takes less than 15 minutes. Use your company’s inspection checklist to assess components like tires, chains, the battery, and the fork.

Don’t: Overload the Forklift

The load weight, distribution, dimensions, and position affect the forklift’s stability and ability to carry. The stated capacity assumes the load is a cube with an evenly distributed weight, with the center aligned with the standard load center. Irregularly shaped loads, unbalanced weight distribution, and an uncentered load can reduce the carrying capacity.

Do: Drive Responsibly

For everyone’s safety, drive responsibly. While you had to learn this to earn certification, growing accustomed to driving can lull you into dropping your guard.

Only drive on designated roadways at your workplace. Avoid uneven or slick surfaces. Never drive with the load raised in the air.

Drive with your seat belt fastened. Use the horn to alert pedestrians and other operators when rounding a corner. Slow down when turning corners, and always maintain a safe distance from others.

Don’t: Leave the Forklift Unattended

Never leave the forklift unattended. According to OSHA, a forklift is unattended if either of the following is true:

  • The forklift is not in the operator’s view
  • The forklift is in the operator’s view, but the operator is 25 feet or further away from the truck

If you need to leave the forklift, park it in the designated location. The parking location should not block walking pathways or exits and entrances. Take the keys with you to prevent unauthorized use.

This list of do’s and don’ts shows the necessity of forklift operator training. Operators can prevent disaster by inspecting and maintaining the forklift components, correctly loading the forks, driving responsibly, and parking properly.

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