1. Operators must be qualified

A commitment to safety begins with proper training. Employers have a responsibility and legal obligation to ensure that anybody who uses material handling equipment (MHE) such as a forklift truck have received appropriate training. Forkway provide courses for all types of MHE, as well as courses for access equipment and other machine types. The courses we offer are fully approved by leading accrediting bodies and include all levels of operator, from the complete novice to instructor level.

2. Wear protective clothing

It needs to be ensured that operators wear the appropriate safety work wear; usually consisting of a safety shoes, hi-visibility jacket and a hard hat. 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. Inspect equipment daily

Forklifts should be inspected before every use. Daily checks with the shift supervisor are recommended to identify and log any problems or defects. Any equipment that requires repair should never be operated. Some of the recommended checks include:

  • Test operating controls such as brakes, lights, horn, and steering wheel
  • Check mast and overhead guard for damage
  • Examine tyres and fluid levels (hydraulic, brake, engine, fuel, and coolant)
  • Check for water, oil, or radiator leaks
  • Ensure the forks are in good condition (e.g. straight, no cracks, no distortion)
  • Look for potential hazards

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4. Create a safer environment

A great way to increase safety within your workplace is to create designated lanes specifically for forklifts and pedestrians. These lanes can be created using painted/taped markings on the floor or by using safety barriers which will increase safety even further.

5. Always wear a seatbelt

It’s important for operators to buckle up while operating a sit-down forklift, as overturned forklifts are a leading cause of forklift-related accidents. Wearing a seatbelt can save operators from being crushed by a machine’s overhead guard or roll cage in the event of an accident.

6. Operate at a safe speed

Drive your forklift within the designated speed limits. It’s important to not stop, turn, change directions suddenly, or move fast when making sharp turns, as these actions can cause the forklift to tip over. If your forklift starts to tip, do not try to jump clear of the machine. It is recommend to stay seated in the forklift, gripping the steering wheel and bracing your feet.

7. Make sure the load is secure

One of the most commons reasons for forklift accidents is unsafe loads. Carrying something that is too heavy, unevenly balanced or too high can cause the forklift to tip over potentially injuring the operator and damaging the load.

  • 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.
  • Do not use damaged, deformed or decayed pallets for holding loads.

8. Maintain 360° visibility

Keep forks low to the ground to provide clear forward visibility. If the load restricts your visibility, operate the equipment in reverse; except when moving up ramps as the load may slip off the forks. If your visibility is poor do not continue driving; in some circumstances you may need a lookout helper to assist you.

9. Do not operate under the influence of alcohol or drugs

People under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have their vision, judgement and balance impaired. Because forklifts are heavy machines that can weigh thousands of kilos and have massive power and force, they require operators to always be in full control of their senses. The slightest mistake can cause severe property damage, injury or even death to the operator or pedestrians.

10. Never carry extra people

Do not allow other workers to ride on the equipment with you unless a second seat is fitted into the forklift. Do no use the forklift to lift people, as forklifts are designed to carry loads. If you need to lift a person, use only a work platform or cage.