Working in any environment where forklifts are present can be very dangerous if appropriate health and safety is ignored. With this in mind, we have prepared this article to provide leading advice to follow to guarantee you and everyone around you remains safe when you are operating a forklift. Points raised take into account elements that directly impact the forklift and also makes suggestions that will prevent harm to the operator.

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Only Operate if you have been through the appropriate training

A major point that must be raised is that you should only operate a forklift if you have been through the necessary training. It is much safer if you have been through a strict learning process that takes into account safe operating and the importance of good hazard perception. Many forklift operators gain the necessary skills from a young age through college courses, but there is also opportunity to gain training through employers if they intend on putting you into a role that requires you to operate heavy material handling equipment.

Without appropriate training, the risk of health and safety hazards increases. When using heavy machinery, it is always best to consider the worst to keep safety at its best. The slightest of mistakes can have detrimental consequences. The below video that trended across the internet may have been seen as being funny but the reality is that scenarios like this can cause serious injuries – or worse, result in a workers death. With this in mind, we encourage all warehouse workers and employers to pay close attention to the level of training their forklift operators have to guarantee safety and to avoid accidents.

Complete Pre Operative Check

Before operating any forklift you should complete pre-safety checks. These are designed to prevent user and pedestrian accidents. Checks will include visually inspecting the vehicle such as checking the tyre pressure, ensuring the mast is secure and checking for any signs of damage. A full check should be completed by a competent individual at the start of every day before the forklift is operated. Even checking that the horn works can prevent accidents – especially if you work in an environment where visibility is limited.

Checks should extend beyond the actual unit. You Should ensure that the area you are operating in has no risks that could cause an accident. This includes leaks, obstructions and potential areas where damage can be caused.

In some cases, you may need to use a forklift on a public road. In which case you should ensure the forklift has valid insurance and that it has any necessary documents required by law including registration plates.

Complete Post Operative Checks

After using the forklift, you should complete post-operative checks. Any damage that may have been caused during the day should be documented so that the next user is aware of any potential issues. By doing this you can save money and keep everyone in the working environment safe from future hazards. For example, if you was in a collision that was intentional or unavoidable (such as reversing into an unseen item) and there are signs of damage, you can make everyone aware so that if repairs are required, they can be resolved fast preventing worse repairs being required.

Quality Assured Forklifts

When buying a forklift it is extremely important that you purchase from a dealership you can trust. It is likely that many businesses will purchase used forklifts to save money. Plus it is a smart move to make because you can have the forklift in a short period of time without waiting for it to be manufactured. When choosing your forklift from a used dealership (buying or hiring) make sure it is quality assured.

Only Lift Within the Height & Weight Capacity Limited

All forklifts come with a height and weight limited. It is extremely important that you only lift within the limited that will be noted in your user handbook. If you lift outside of the manufacturers noted limited, there is real risk that the forklift could overturn which is dangerous for the operator, anyone nearby and the forklift itself. With this in mind, you should think before lifting any item and ensure you buy the appropriate unit and forklift safety cage for your requirements.

Travel and Sensible Speeds

It goes without saying that you should only operate your forklift at speeds that are appropriate for the environment. If you are traveling at slower, safer speeds you will have more time to react to your environment. It will also ensure that you can travel past obstacles without unintentionally colliding with the nearby objects.

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Be Aware of Pedestrians in Your Environment

When operating the forklift, you need to be aware of anyone that is nearby to you whilst you’re driving. This is like driving a car whereby you need stay focused. You can prevent hazards by being alert. Equally, anyone working in an environment should wear appropriate clothing so that they are visible.

Prevent Unnecessary Hazards

This is quite a vague point, but it is important. You need to prevent unnecessary hazards by making smart decisions. If you’re turning around corners, slow down and beep the horn. If you’re reversing, ask a worker to help. By thinking whilst operating you will feel a lot more comfortable and will avoid making accidents. Regardless of whether accidents were intentional or unintentional, accidents are a problem and if you can avoid them by being sensible and thinking whilst operating, you will be rewarded by feel stress-free and responsible.

Never Use Mobile Phones or Gadgets When Operating

You should never do anything that will distract you when driving a forklift. This includes using a mobile or any form of gadget. Even if you use an IPAD for recording information at work, this should only be looked at when you’re not using the forklift. By diverting your attention to anything other than the task of operating the forklift, you risk causing accidents that should never happen!

Wear Appropriate PPE

Appropriate PPE is always needed to keep you safe. You should only wear clothing that is suited to the environment. Any accessories or fashion items should be avoided to stop loose areas from getting caught. Steel toecaps should always be worn in environments where forklifts are operated. In some cases, Hi Viz clothing should also be worn to help pedestrians see you when you’re operating the unit.

There are many things that you need to consider when operating a forklift, but if you follow the advice in this article and complete research surrounding each point you will be on track to staying safe when operating and driving a forklift.