Forklift Safety: 5 Things to Know Before Operating a Forklift

Forklifts are essential to working in a warehouse, but they can also be quite dangerous. With 85 deaths a year from misusing forklifts it’s important that you understand how to use one to avoid injury.

Keep reading to learn the 5 things you need to know before operating a forklift.

1. Complete OSHA’s Required Training

First and foremost you need to complete all of the OSHA safety and training programs. These include:

  • Formal Instruction
  • Lectures
  • Written Materials
  • Practical Training
  • Workplace Performance Evaluation

2. Inspect Your Forklift

This is sometimes missed, but it’s important to inspect your forklift regularly and ensure it’s working. Like a car, there’s maintenance required to keep a forklift running smoothly and safely.

Here’s a brief list of things to check before starting your forklift:

  • Lights
  • Seatbelts
  • Brakes

If you find your forklift is broken or damaged it’s probably time for a new one. Learn more about where to buy a forklift here: Princeton forklifts.

3. Respect the Power of the Forklift

It’s important to understand and respect using a forklift. You may drive to work every day but you need to know how that differs from using your forklift.

A few notable differences are:

  • Traveling speeds that are similar to walking pace
  • A 3-point suspension
  • As the driver, you’re not completely enclosed – it’s open on all sides
  • Much more prone to tipping over whether or not it’s loaded

Because of this, you need to constantly be aware of your surroundings while driving a forklift.

4. Understand the Stability Triangle

In an unloaded forklift, the center of gravity is higher compared to a car. Then, the load has it’s own center of gravity. Once you pick up the load you establish a combined center of gravity.

Due to this, forklifts are built on a three-point suspension system that resembles the physics of a triangle. There are support points on both sides of the front axle and one other in the center of the back axle. This forms the stability triangle that drivers must be aware of while driving.

Understanding this will help you safely move the forklift around and keep the load steady.

5. Know the Load Basics

OSHA recommends checking the loads before picking them up with the forklifts. This check should look for the load’s stability and dimensions to ensure it will travel safely.

When ready to lift, put the load squarely in front of the forklift with the forks as far apart as possible. Once under the load ensure it’s centered and won’t be overloaded.

Next, slightly tilt the forklift back before lifting it up. Lift the load enough so it’s off the floor.

Carefully and safely drive to your destination and set it down gently.

Start Operating a Forklift Today

Now that you know the 5 essential safety tips while operating a forklift, you can feel more confident driving one today.

Know a forklift driver? Share this article with them to keep them safe.