How To Safely Operate a Forklift

Factories and warehouses, big or small, would not be complete without forklifts. These are machineries that enable the transport of items faster.

As forklifts are essential in everyday operations, it is important that someone knows how to operate it safely and accurately.

If you need to operate a forklift, or if you are simply curious how to control one, read the tips below.

  • Materials that you will need:
    • A hardhat
    • Safety shoes
  • Read the forklift’s manual. There are different types of forklifts depending on use. Take time to read the user’s manual especially if you are handling a forklift for the first time.
  • Ensure your safety first. Before you start, wear a safety shoes and hardhat. This is particularly needed if you are to transport heavy items with your forklift.
  • Inspect the forklift. Have a brief look around the forklift to check for possible damages. If you see something suspicious, such as a loose knob or leaks, do not run the equipment. Also open the compartment for inspection.
  • Know the basics. Regardless of the forklift model, all of them have an ignition switch, forward, neutral, and reverse drive, brakes, and knobs for lowering, lifting, or tilting the forks. Once you know where everything is located, and given that you know the basics of driving, it would be easier for you to run a forklift. Remember to put your seatbelt on and turn on the headlight if need be. There are sophisticated models of the forklift that turns the engine off if the operator removes the seatbelt.
  • Practice on an empty parking lot. As you are operating the forklift for the first time, it is best that you practice in a spacious area free from obstructions.
  • Get into the forklift. Use both hands to stable yourself as you mount the forklift. Feel free to adjust the seat distance from the steering wheel to your liking before fastening the seatbelt. As in driving a regular vehicle, transmission should be in neutral, and hand break should be enabled.
  • Turn the ignition on. As you turn the engine on, check the fuel and battery gauge. If you are running low on fuel, refill before proceeding.
  • Check the control levels. Have a quick check if the control knobs for the fork work. Make the fork lift, tilt, and lower and check if the movement is smooth.
  • Do not play with the forklift. Forklifts are made to transport and lift heavy items but this does not include people. Do not allow anyone to step on the fork while you are operating. Also monitor the speed of your driving. Ideally, you should not go any faster than a sprint.
  • If the load is too big, drive backwards. It will be hard to see where you are going if your load is covering your view. Drive backwards if you are carrying heavy loads as well. But know the weight limit for loads and do not carry anything that exceeds that limit.

As soon as you get the hang of driving the forklift in an open area, practice going into tight spaces as well and using ramps.


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