Forklift Safety - The Do's and Don'ts of Forklift Operation

Forklift Safety – The Dos and Don’ts of Forklift Operation

Properly operating and maintaining a forklift is no simple task. Those driving a forklift must be trained in the pre-operational planning of forklift use, vehicle preparation, as well as operating safety and procedures. Here are some ‘Dos and Don’ts’ of Forklift safety.

Pre-operational Planning

Before a forklift is put into use, it should be thoroughly inspected. Forklifts have many moving parts, all with the potential to malfunction. Use a manufacturer provided daily operator checklist. If the checklist is missing, the forklift should not be used until a replacement has been provided. Those using a forklift should determine travel routes of their daily operations for increased efficiency. Also, make sure that the size of the load the forklift carries is not over its maximum lifting capacity. Forklift safety starts way before you turn the ignition.

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Vehicle preparation

Once the forklift pre-operational planning is complete, it’s time to make the final preparations. First, keep the owner’s manual on the forklift at all times. Readily available information on the forklift can help speed up daily operations as well as help drivers out when they are in a bind. Next, the forklift’s rated limits are on the data plate as a reminder to never exceed them.

If you are using a forklift indoors, you need to make sure that the area is properly ventilated. The fumes released from the internal combustion engine create a substantial safety hazard in an area without adequate ventilation. Now that preparations are complete, buckle up the seatbelt and the forklift should be safe to operate.


When operating a forklift, there are procedures that must be followed to ensure forklift safety. While the forklift is in motion, it is imperative that the loads are carried as low as possible. This keeps the center of gravity low, decreasing the risk of the forklift toppling over or causing an injury. Furthermore, the forklift mast should be tilted back before moving. This helps secure the load in place. While moving between or under structures, always check to make sure there is enough clearance for the lift as well as the load. Always underestimate how much room you have and avoid taking any risks.

It is also important to maintain a reasonable speed while operating a forklift. Indoors, this should be under 2 MPH, while outdoor speed shouldn’t exceed 15 MPH. Operate the loaded lift with the load trailing for increased visibility. Always go up ramps with the load leading and down with the load trailing. Always slow down when making turns or using a ramp. Visibility is a very important part of forklift safety. Finally, always look out for power lines and unstable ground and stay a safe distance away.


A large aspect of forklift safety is knowing what not to do. For example, never sacrifice safety, for speed. Some forklift operators may feel inclined to ignore safety guidelines in order to finish a job faster. However, if something goes wrong, the job will take much more time and someone could get hurt. Also, never allow anyone other than the operator to ride the forklift. Having ‘side passengers’ creates many safety hazards.

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Another mistake forklift operators might make is leaving an elevated load unattended. Walking away from an elevated load for only a few moments could potentially cause an accident. When you are driving up or down a ramp, do not make a turn. This could cause the forklift to flip. Finally, never sit on the load itself. You could fall off, cause the load to drop, or overload the forklift and damage its mechanisms.

Expert Forklift Safety Training

Before any of these forklift safety procedures are carried out, a forklift operator must be properly trained and certified. C&C Lift Truck offers comprehensive forklift safety training to meet OSHA standards. Our experienced staff has the experience and expertise to provide the best training available. We also rent, sell, and lease the highest quality forklifts and parts to ensure safety from the start. Contact C&C Lift Truck today.

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