25 Simple Tips You Need to Know When Operating a Forklift

Although forklifts can provide a great deal of assistance on-site, they can also be a source of danger. Below you can find out a list of 25 tips you need to know when operating a forklift. 

1. Make sure your fully trained and qualified

Forklift operators must be fully trained and possess a license to operate the equipment. Operator Training is essential to comply with safe working practices and to make the most of your forklift truck. Never allow anyone to operate the forklift if they’re not qualified to do so.

2. Wear appropriate clothing

Operators should wear steel toe cap shoes or boots, eye, hand and head protection. Safety is paramount when operating heavy equipment or dangerous chemicals.

3. Always examine the forklift before use

Driving a forklift with any faults or damages can be extremely dangerous. The equipment should be checked beforehand for any faults to brakes, steering, controls and warning devices.

4. Ensure you have a clear path

Operating a forklift is unique in itself. You must ensure that you have a clear path at all times when moving heavy loads. We recommend you can see at least 180 degrees in front of you.

5. Drive at a safe speed

It’s not wise to operate a forklift at its maximum speed when carrying loads. You or others may be seriously injured. Always drive at a slow and safe speed and ensure you have full control of the equipment.

6. Avoid fast movements

Never drive, stop or turn corners at speed. Sudden turns or movements can throw the forklift off balance. This is especially dangerous when surrounded by other pieces of equipment or people.

7. Ensure the load is evenly distributed

You must ensure that the forklift load is evenly distributed. An uneven weight will likely cause you, others or the equipment harm

8. Only start the forklift if you’re in control

It’s important to only start the forklift once you are correctly seated and all controls are within reach. Your seat and mirrors should also be adjusted to ensure you can operate the machine safely.

9. Take notice of your environment

Pay attention to what’s around you before you start operating the forklift. Stick to the rules and guidelines of the site and only drive the machine in areas in which it is permitted.

10. Keep away from the edge

Never operate a forklift near the edge of a loading dock or ramp as it may topple over. Causing damage to the machine and most importantly, YOU. 

11. Don’t go too high

Pay attention to your surroundings and don’t stack your load too high. You may have issues entering or exiting buildings.

12. Avoid hazards

Avoid loose objects on the ground when driving a forklift. They may cause you to lose control of the machine.

13. Use your horn

Always use your horn when turning around corners or entering and exiting buildings. It will alert any passers-by of your presence and prevent a potentially serious injury.

14. Keep your distance

Always maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. They may move in an unpredictable manner.

15. Use ropes or bindings

Always make sure your load is stacked and positioned correctly. For extra security, it may be wise to secure it with ropes or bindings. 

16.  Carry loads only

You should only carry loads and not people when operating a forklift unless there is another securely fitted seat. 

17. Evenly distributed load

Make sure the load is evenly distributed and both forks are fully underneath it. Use ropes or bindings if needed.

18. Never go over capacity

Never go over the weight capacity of a forklift. This is to protect both you and the forklift from harm.

19. Quality pallets only

Only use pallets that are in good condition. Avoid using deformed or decayed pallets as this can seriously affect the balance and safety of the load.

20. Keep clear of the mast

Do not allow anyone to stand or walk under the load of the forklift. You must also keep your hands and feet clear of the cross members of the mast when it is being lowered.

21. Be cautious on ramps

Always drive in a forward direction when driving on-ramps. Going down a ramp? Drive-in reverse. It’s also important not to load and unload goods when on a ramp.

22. Keep the forks low

Always try to keep the forks as low as possible when operating a forklift. This is for stability and safety purposes. Never drive with forks that are tilted or elevated.

23. Don’t leave an operating forklift unattended

Leaving keys in an unattended forklift is illegal. Leaving Keys In Forklifts Can Cost Lives. A company was fined £180,000 with £15,000 costs after a worker was killed by an unauthorised person driving a forklift.

24. Refuelling

Only refuel at designated refuelling locations and make sure the forklift is switched off when doing so.

25. End of your shift

When you reach the end of your shift, make sure you park the forklift in its designated or authorised area and fully lower the forks and apply the brake. Turn it off and remove the key.

How can Permatt help?

Here at Permatt, we aim to accommodate all our clients. Our forklift training courses can be carried out at our Permatt depot in Killingworth. Or if you would prefer one of our team members and course leaders to arrive at your work premises to carry out the training courses then we can also provide this service.


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