How I Came to Love Construction

Essential Forklift Safety Tips

by Wade Black

Ways to Use a Forklift Wrong (and How to Do It Right)

The safe operation of a forklift requires common sense and knowledge of how to use a forklift from the time you crank the engine until it is parked. Several stages are required and must be followed to protect you and your fellow workers. One very important rule is never operate a forklift unless you have been trained and licensed. Perform an inspection before you use the forklift, and make sure all your gauges are working correctly. If you follow the safety tips to come, you should be fine.

Recommendations for Mounting and Dismounting

Be sure your shoes are grease-free, and your hands are clean to prevent slipping when you grasp the handhold. Never hold the steering wheel as you climb into the seat because it can move and make you fall. Be careful to watch your footing and wear appropriate footwear for your protection.

Starting and Stopping

Be cautious of blind spots. You can use a spotter or sound the horn so everyone knows your location. Use designated areas to park and never block exits or aisles if you are operating a forklift in a building.

How to park a forklift safely:

1.     Slowly apply the brake and stop.

2.     Neutralize the controls and set the parking brake.

3.     Turn off the engine.

4.     If you are on an incline, always use a block the wheels to safely support the forklift.

Lifting Passengers/Workers

Never elevate workers standing on the forks for any reason. It's too dangerous. Elevation should not happen unless the forklift is directly below the work area. If for some reason you do have to use the forklift while individuals are on the forks, make sure the forklift is equipped with a working shutoff valve so you can emergency stop the operations.

If You Turn Over

If the forklift starts to turn over, never jump from the lift. You must firmly grasp the wheel and lean in the opposite direction. If you have a lateral tip-over, exit from a stand-up type lift by carefully stepping backward.

Other Safety Requirements

·         Use seat belts if they are installed.

·         If you do not travel at a safe speed, your lift could tip over. You also are at risk of colliding with people or obstacles.

·         You must maintain a clear travel path and slow down for slippery or wet floors.

·         Always keep your arms and legs inside the forklift.

·         Beware of obstructions in your path. A load can fall off the lift from just a small bump in your path.

·         Never surpass the weight capacity of the forklift.

Judgment calls must be made at the start and completion of every job using a forklift. Consider the weight of the load, its stability, and how it is to be lifted. With this list of recommendations, you should be capable of moving anything safely that the forklift has the capability to move. 

For further instructions, be sure to ask a construction equipment rental company, such as All Star Equipment Rental & Sales, Inc.