16 Tips for Operating a Forklift Safely

1. Operators must be qualified

  •          Operating forklifts should only be done by individuals who have been trained properly and contain a licence to operate the equipment.

2. Appropriate clothing must be worn.

  •          It needs to be ensured that operators wear the appropriate safety work wear; usually consisting of a hard hat, safety shoes and hi-visibility jackets.
  •          The work wear must be reasonably fitted as any loose clothing can get caught on machinery.          
  •          Don’t operate/hold any of the controls when your hands have grease on them; it may cause them to slide off and cause an accident.

3. Examine Equipment before use

  •          Operators should do a routine check of the equipment before driving them.  Some things you should check for any faults are brakes, steering, controls, warning devices, mast and tires.
  •          If there are any noted damages or problems management should be notified and the forklift should not be operated if it needs to be repaired.
  •          Always consider the ‘journey’s end’ of a load before picking it up.  A convenient position of a load from pick up may not be convenient for stacking.

4. Starting up the forklift

  •          For safety purposes it’s important for the operator to make use of the steps and hand grabs to seat themselves correctly in the forklift.
  •          Before starting the forklift it’s important to ensure all the equipment’s controls are in reach and the seat position and mirrors are adjusted to the operator’s needs
  •          The operator should not start the forklift until they are correctly seated with their safety belt fastened and all parts of their body are safely inside the confines of the operators cabin or the forklift.

5. Consider the surrounding environment

  •          Whilst operating a forklift you must pay attention and follow any work site rules and guidelines.
  •          The operator must only drive the equipment in the machinery’s designated roadways.          
  •          Observe all signs, especially those on maximum permitted floor loadings and clearance heights.
  •          Be aware of the height of the load, mast and overhead guard of the forklift when entering or exiting buildings.
  •          Be careful when operating a forklift near the edge of a loading dock or ramp - the forklift can fall over the edge - keep a safe distance from the edge.
  •          Do not operate on bridge plates, unless they can support the weight of the forklift and load.

6. Operate at a safe speed

  •          Never proceed past the speed limit.
  •          Take corners and any turns slowly to minimise risk of tipping          
  •          Make any changes in direction or any stops gradually and slowly.

7. Avoid Hazards

  •          Steer clear of any bumps or uneven ground surfaces along with slippery conditions.
  •          Steer clear of loose ground objects which could cause loss of control over the equipment or a load to move around.          
  •          Use the horn when closing in on a corner or doorway/entrance and around people to alert pedestrians or other forklift operators of your whereabouts to avoid any unnecessary collision.          
  •          Keep a safe distance from other trucks in case they move in an unpredictable manner.
  •          Make sure that you always have enough space to stop safely.

8. Ensure your load is stable and secure

  •          Check the loads carefully before moving them for stability and damage.
  •          It is important to ensure that the load is tilted back with the forks sitting low whilst transporting in order to increase truck stability.
  •          Check for any overhead objects before lifting or stacking loads.
  •          Do not lift or move loads that are not safe or stable.
  •          Make sure loads are correctly stacked and positioned across both forks.
  •          Stack the load on the pallet or skid safely and correctly.
  •          Use securing measures such as ropes or bindings if required.

9. Make sure you have clear visibility

  •          Operate the forklift in reverse when it improves visibility; except when moving up ramps.
  •          It is important to make sure you can see the racking clearly in which you are positioning your load.          
  •          If visibility is poor do not continue driving; in some circumstances you may need a lookout helper to assist you.


10. Forklifts are for Carrying Loads only

  •         Operators must not let others ride on the equipment unless another seat is fitted safely to the forklift for a second person.          
  •          If a person has to be lifted, use only a securely attached work platform and cage and follow the appropriate operating instructions.

11. Keep Clear of the Mast

  •          Do not authorise anyone to stand or walk under the load or forklift machinery - The load can fall causing injury or death.
  •          Keep hands and feet clear of the cross members of the mast - Serious injury can be caused if the mast is lowered while your hand is on it.

12. Driving on Ramps

  •          When driving up ramps’ move in a forward direction and down ramps in reverse, especially while carrying loads.
  •          Do not load or unload goods or turn whilst on a ramp.

13. Ensure the forklift is not Over-loaded

  •          Do not use the tip of the forks as a lever to raise a heavy load.
  •          Do not push a load with the tip of the forks.
  •          Know the capacity of your forklift and any attachments being used and never exceed this capacity.
  •          An overload can cause the rear tyres to be raised off the ground and may cause the forklift to tip over.

14. Ensure the Load is evenly distributed

  •          Do not lift or move a load unless both forks are fully under the load.
  •          Do not lift a load with one fork. Use pallets and skids that can withstand the weight of the load.
  •          Do not use damaged, deformed or decayed pallets for holding loads.

15. Refueling

  •          A forklift should only be refuelled at specially designated locations.
  •          Switch off the forklift.
  •          For IC engine forklifts, no open flame or sparks are permitted, and refuelling should take place in a well-ventilated area.

16. When the Shift Ends

  •          After use ensure the forklift is parked in a designated or authorised area.
  •          Fully lower the forks to the floor and apply the park brake.
  •          Turn the forklift “off” and remove the key         
  • Do not leave a forklift running whilst unattended.

Who Is Required to Get Forklift Safety Training?

Operating a forklift involves moving large, heavy items that humans often could not possibly carry. That makes the process inherently dangerous and OSHA has no tolerance for untrained forklift operators in commercial and industry settings. Not only...

How Often Should You Inspect Your Forklift?

No matter which industry you work in, forklifts can be vital to maintaining everyday workflow. Are you curious with regards to how often a forklift should be serviced? The following is an overview of how to maintain your forklift.  How Often...

Common Forklift Maintenance Problems

So many major companies rely on the use of forklifts to better manage and move warehouse inventory. Forklifts are large pieces of machinery that can experience mechanical problems that can lead to dangerous situations if left unchecked. It is...

Forklift Maintenance FAQ

Forklift maintenance can be challenging - especially as you want to prevent injuries and keep maintenance costs down. Here are a couple of frequently asked questions about how to keep forklifts safe and well maintained. How often should...

5 Steps to Forklift Battery Maintenance

Forklift battery maintenance isn't necessarily difficult, but it does require a certain degree of oversight. Unfortunately, it may be forgotten about in the midst of the other duties of the day, which can cause the forklift to die prematurely....

5 tips for Operating a Forklift Safely

In the warehouse business, forklifts are, arguably, the most important tool in the building. They are what is used to pick orders, transport shipments from carrier to shelves and vice versa. That is why it's crucial to operate them correctly and...

What is a Forklift and How Does it Work?

A forklift is any vehicle with a mechanical device attached to the front that is designed to lift and lower objects of various sizes. The most common forklifts are single-seat, electrically powered units that can lift more than a literal ton of...

The Benefits of Buying a Used Forklift

A forklift is an indispensable tool in industrial businesses. Whether you’re moving freight, stacking palettes of goods, or moving heavy materials onto a truck, nothing beats a reliable forklift for taking care of heavy lifting jobs. When...

How Often Do Forklifts Need Maintenance?

Forklifts are incredibly complex machines, ones that need to operate perfectly day after day under the harshest working conditions. After all, the absolute last thing you want is for your equipment to fail in the middle of a big job and...

Tips for Purchasing a Used Forklift

Forklifts are some of the most necessary pieces of equipment used across countless industries. Whether you are loading or unloading heavy pallets or moving supplies from one end of a warehouse to another, forklifts make life easier. Forklifts...

Equipment Specials!

Why buy new? This should be the question you ask yourself before buying anything new... especially material handling equipment. Todays equipment is built to last and run for thousands of hours.  ​Here are a couple of...

Inventory Time at Integrity Lift

The team doing the annual inventory here at Integrity Lift. It was “all hands on deck” for the Integrity Lift team this past week. Inventories are never much fun… but it seems that the team at Integrity can make just about...

Rental Market Set For a Record

And Integrity Flex Fleet is ready to lead the way!    The equipment rental industry stands poised to set an industry record for revenues in 2015, according to the latest updated industry forecast from the American Rental Association...


            Driving a forklift with worn out tires is dangerous, so here are some signs to look for that will let you know that you should replace the tires as soon as...


    It’s that time of year again! Time to get out there and clean our roads and highways. This is the second year that Integrity Lift Services has been part of the Michigan ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY program. And we are very proud...