10 Simple Tips for Operating a Forklift Safely

Here are 10 quick tips for operating a forklift effectively. Although these tips are simple and basic, they are a good starting point to support workplace health and safety guidelines. We hope that you find them useful:

  1. Operators must be qualified
    • Forklifts should only be operated by trained individuals equipped with a license to operate the equipment.
  2. Wear the Appropriate Clothing
    • Workers should wear the appropriate safety work wear especially hard hats, safety shoes and high visibility jackets
    • The clothing should be appropriately fitted to avoid getting caught on the machinery
    • Avoid operating machinery when your hands have grease, it may cause them to slide off and cause an accident
  3. Examine Equipment Before Use
    • Operators should routinely check equipment before driving. Be sure to check for any faults on brakes, steering, controls, warning devices, mast and tires.
    • If there are any noted damages, management should be notified and the equipment repaired before operational use.
    • Always consider the final destination of a load before picking it up. A convenient position of a load from pick up may not be convenient for stacking.
  4. Starting up the Forklift
    • Make use of the steps and hand grabs to seat yourself correctly in the forklift.
    • Before starting the forklift, ensure that all the equipment controls are in reach and the seat position and mirrors are adjusted to the operator’s needs.
    • Wait to start the forklift until the operator is seated correctly with their seat belt fastened and all body parts safely inside the confines of the forklift
  5. Consider the Surrounding Environment
    • While operating a forklift, pay attention and follow worksite rules and guidelines
    • The operator must only drive the equipment in the machinery’s designated roadways.
    • Observe all signs especially those on maximum permitted floor loadings and clearance heights
    • Be aware of the height of the load, mast and overhead guard of the forklift when entering or exiting buildings.
    • Be sure to keep a safe distance between the forklift and the edge of the loading dock or ramp
    • Do not operate on bridge plates, unless they can support the weight of the forklift and load.
  6. Operate at a safe speed
    • Never go past the speed limit
    • Go slowly around corners and turns to minimize risk of tipping
    • Make changes in direction and stops gradually and slowly
  7. Avoid Hazards
    • Steer clear of any bumps, uneven ground surfaces or loose ground objects that would cause you to lose control over the equipment
    • Use the horn when closing in on a corner or doorway to alert pedestrians or other forklift operators of your proximity to avoid unnecessary collision.
    • Keep a safe distance from other trucks in case they move in an unpredictable manner.
    • Ensure that you always have space to stop safely.
  8. Ensure your load is stable and secure
    • Check the loads carefully before moving them for stability and damage.
    • It is important to ensure that the load is tilted back with the forks sitting low during transport to increase truck stability
    • Check for any objects overhead before lifting or stacking loads.
    • Do not lift or move loads that are not safe or stable
    • Make sure loads are correctly stacked and positioned across both forks
    • Use securing devices such as ropes or bindings if required.
  9. Make sure you have clear visibility
    • Operate the forklift in reverse when visibility improves, except when moving up ramps.
    • It is important you can see the racking clearly in which you are positioning your load
    • If there is poor visibility, you may need a helper to assist.
  10. Forklifts are for carrying loads only
    • Operators must not let others ride on the equipment unless another seat is fitted safely for them.


McKinley Sterling is a Jr. Digital Marketing Specialist with  Results Staffing. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 2010 and has had several professional opportunities in the public relations, communications and digital media space. He is passionate about digital marketing and excited to bring his experience to this exciting new role with Results Staffing.