Forklift Safety Best Practices

No matter what type of business you run, if you use a forklift in your day-to-day operations, you need to be aware of forklift best practices to protect your own safety and that of others nearby. When used incorrectly, a forklift can be one of the most significant hazards in a workplace.

Here’s a checklist of forklift safety tips to ensure employee safety and prevent hazards.

Wear the right clothing

First and foremost, forklift operators need to be dressed for the job. Always wear appropriate safety equipment when operating a forklift. This includes safety shoes, hard hats and a high-visibility jacket or vest. Tuck away loose-fitting clothing to make sure it doesn’t get caught in the forklift’s moving parts.

Inspect equipment daily

No discussion of forklift best practices is complete without a discussion of safety checks. Before every use, check the forklift with the shift supervisor, and be sure to log any problems you notice. If you spot any necessary repairs, don’t operate the forklift; instead, reach out to your local heavy equipment maintenance company to schedule repair. Daily inspections should include:

  • Testing operating controls like the steering wheel, brakes, lights and horn
  • Checking for damage to the mast and overhead guard
  • Checking hydraulic, brake, engine, fuel and coolant fluid levels
  • Checking for water, oil or radiator leaks
  • Ensuring forks are in good condition
  • Checking tires for adequate pressure

Always maintain full visibility

Operate a forklift as you would a car by maintaining full visibility whenever it’s in operation. When you’re moving a load, keep forks low to the ground to provide adequate forward visibility. In cases where the load restricts your front visibility, operate the forklift in reverse. You should always be looking in the direction of travel when the forklift is in motion, and use rearview mirrors to boost visibility.

Never overload the forklift

You should never carry a load that exceeds your forklift’s weight capacity. Carrying loads that are too heavy can easily cause the machine to tip. Double-check load capacities—they’re typically listed on the machine itself and in the owner’s manual.

Always wear a seat belt

No matter how far you’re hauling a load with a forklift, you should always wear a seat belt during operation. Overturned forklifts are an all-too-common cause of forklift accidents. Wearing a seat belt can keep operators from being crushed by the forklift’s overhead guard or roll cage.

Follow proper shutdown protocols

When you’re done using the forklift, park it safely by setting the parking brake, lowering the forks and setting all controls to neutral. Taking the time to park the machine safely reduces the risk of unintended movements. If you’re parking the forklift on a slope or incline, use wheel blocks to keep the machine secure.

Following the forklift safety tips listed above will protect you and employees in your facility from significant hazards. Remember that forklift safety starts with renting a forklift from a trusted supplier. For more information on forklift safety and maintenance, reach out to Ram Rent-All, Inc. today.