6 Safety Precautions You Should Take When Operating a Forklift

September 15, 2013

Did you know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers forklift operation a hazardous job? That’s why this organization has instituted federal regulations to help manage and increase the safety of this position. You will need to be properly certified before you can manage this equipment.


However, it’s important to understand that this isn’t just a matter of getting your credentials out of the way. You should take this training seriously and truly internalize it in order to cut down on worksite accidents.


Here are 6 safety precautions and tips that can help you avoid unnecessary upsets:


  1. 1.    Never use a vehicle you have not been trained to use.

Not only is this common sense, but it’s also the law. OSHA requires that your certification be specific to the equipment that you will be using at work. This makes sense, considering that each type of forklift has different specifications, like speed, weight capacity, and emissions.


  1. 2.    Always be on the lookout for people walking by.

If you work on a site that is sparsely populated, you may take it for granted that there could always be a pedestrian nearby. This could be the boss coming to give you a message, another colleague going about his business, or, depending on your job site, a customer. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know who will end up injured when it’s your truck vs. the pedestrian.


  1. 3.    Wear your seatbelt, when applicable.

Not all models have a seatbelt, but those that do, have one for a reason. Again, this is definitely something that should be common sense, but the Administration does also require this. This could be what saves your life if your vehicle topples unexpectedly. Even if you haven’t seen the benefits of wearing one thus far, remember that it only takes one time; it’s called an accident for a reason.


  1. 4.    Honk your horn as you exit and enter buildings.

This is one practice that can go a long way in preventing injury to others. Whether it’s someone on foot or another driver, this will give others a warning that you are coming, and give them time to move out of the way.


  1. 5.    Get familiar with how much weight your vehicle can hold.

This is one of the reasons that every operator is required to be trained on the specific type of equipment he or she will be using. If you misestimate the weight limit and end uploading too much, the vehicle could tip and cause serious injury to the driver.


  1. 6.    Never operate the vehicle when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

This is another one of those no-brainers, but it still warrants some attention here. If you had too much to drink the night before work, and you think your driving ability has been compromised, it’s important for you to take the initiative to protect yourself and others by declining to use the vehicle. This is also true for things like prescription medications that may alter your ability to safely operate a forklift.


These are just a few things that it would be in your best interest to be mindful of. Remember, fatalities in this industry are not unheard of. Regardless of how safe and confident you feel in your ability to do your job, it doesn’t hurt to refresh yourself on how you can be even safer and more confident in the workplace.