When driving a forklift for the first time, the task may seem a little daunting. You’ll want to make sure you correctly follow all rules to ensure a safe work environment for yourself and those around you. Check out the list below for 7 tips to consider when operating a forklift. While they may come across as basic, they’ll serve as a great starting point for new forklift operators.
It may seem silly, but putting yourself in the right mind set makes all the difference. Make sure you are awake and alert. It is never safe to operate machinery while drowsy. Quickly check yourself over to ensure you’re wearing proper clothing for the job. The operator’s handbook states that operators are to wear the following appropriate safety equipment: hard hat, safety shoes, and a hi-visibility jacket. Clothing should be reasonably fitted to avoid getting caught in the machinery. Long hair should be tied back. Operators should also make sure their hands are clean of grease so their grip is strong and doesn’t slip.
It’s important to check your equipment before use. Forklift safety rules state that you should check the breaks, warning devices, steering, mast, and tires for faults. If problems are detected, immediately notify management. Make sure the forklift control levers are within reach upon sitting. Plan a visual journey before you start to move. Have a clear vision of where you will be moving within the designated roadways, and be aware of signs that dictate load height restrictions.
The Logistics & Materials Handling Blog states that you should never drive over the designated speed limit. Always proceed around corners and turns slowly to avoid tipping. If you need to change your direction or path, do so slowly and gradually. It is always best to steer clear of bumps and uneven ground. Avoid slippery areas as well. Keep a safe distance from loose objects on the ground and other trucks or machines. Use the horn when approaching a corner or doorway to signal caution to those around you.
If visibility is poor, do not attempt to continue driving. Call for assistance and have a lookout guide you. You may choose to drive in reverse, but remember to never drive in reverse up a ramp. Check that you can see your loading area clearly to ensure proper positioning. Again, if you are unable to see properly, have someone assist you with placing the load.
Examine loads carefully before driving for stability and damage. It’s important that loads be stacked and positioned across both forks correctly. Use ropes or binding materials if needed. Know the carrying capacity of your fork before loading, as an overload can cause tipping. Check for overhead obstructions before lifting, and remember to never lift a load that is unsafe or unstable.
Under no circumstances should anyone be permitted to stand or walk under the load. If a load falls, it can cause severe injury or death. Make sure to keep all hands and feet clear of the cross members of the mast. If you lower the mast while your hands are on it, this too can lead to serious injury.
Yale’s article on safe handling states that you should only re-fuel at specially designated locations. Make sure the machine is turned completely off before fueling. No open flames or sparks are permitted for IC engines. Fueling should also take place in a well ventilated area. After a shift, be sure to park in an authorized area. Lower the forks completely and apply the parking break. Always remember to never leave machinery running while unattended.
With these tips in mind, new forklift operators can rest assured that they’ll be on their way to safe and easy operation in no time. Remember that machinery may only be operated by those trained properly and licensed. Always refer back to the manual if you have any questions about how to operate a forklift’s controls or feel free to contact us.