When it comes to forklift operation, the most common cause of equipment issues and repairs is operator error. To help you avoid any accidents, dangerous situations, or costly downtime, we’ve put together a list of forklift tips and best practices to maintain a productive operating environment.
ALWAYS CONDUCT A WALKAROUND INSPECTION
Before beginning forklift operation, it is critical that the operator check the equipment for any signs of damage or issues. A careful inspection prior to starting work will allow you to catch small problems before they become larger, costlier, and more dangerous. If there are any issues, then the operator should report them and not use the forklift.
BE CAUTIOUS ON GRADES
Many warehouses or other environments will have ramps or inclines. The key to effective forklift operation on grades is to travel straight up and down—drivers should never attempt to turn around on slopes. Always keep the load elevated, tilted back, and not pointed down the slope.
TAKE TURNS AND INTERSECTIONS CAREFULLY
One of the most important forklift tips is to move around turns and cross aisles slowly and cautiously. Sound the forklift’s horn whenever your vision is obstructed to alert other workers that you are nearby. If noise levels are high, ensure you use flashing lights to let others know you are near them or coming around a corner.
CONSULT YOUR FORKLIFT OPERATION MANUAL
Before using your forklift, always check the owner’s manual so that you understand its limits. Never move loads that are heavier than the stated weight capacity of the forklift. Also, operate the machine at a speed that allows you to stop safely given the weight of your load.
SEPARATE FORKLIFT TRAFFIC IF POSSIBLE
We suggest designating certain aisles for forklift operation and other aisles for use by workers on foot whenever possible. It’s best to install barriers to isolate workstations from paths traveled by forklifts and avoid their use near time clocks, break rooms, and main exits. Doing so will reduce the chances of workplace accidents.
DON’T TRANSPORT OR LIFT PEOPLE
Drivers should never allow passengers to ride on the trucks during forklift operation, and the machine should not be used to elevate workers who are standing on the forks.