Fork Lift Association & Thorough Examination

Forklift Safety Guide

Forklift trucks are powerful tools but can also be extremely dangerous.On average forklift trucks are involved in 24% of all workplace transport accidents. The majority of accidents involving lift trucks are often due to poor supervision and a lack of training.

When operated safely and correctly there is no reason for a forklift truck to cause accident or harm.The below is a guide only, forklift trucks should only be operated after thorough training, for a complete overview see the government Health and Safety Executive website:

1. Only allow qualified staff to operate Forklift Trucks

It goes without saying, but restricting the use of forklift trucks to trained and qualified members of staff is the key to ensuring the safe operation within your working environment.

Proper training can greatly minimise the number of accidents involving Forklift Trucks. The Health and Safety Commission has published an Approved Code of Practise (ACOP) and guidance called Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training.

2. Wear the correct gear

  1. Forklift truck operators must be appropriately dressed - wearing the correct safety gear, including high visibility jackets, suitable safety shoes and hard-hats (as appropriate) should be worn.
  2. Remember that loose clothing can become caught on the truck or may interfere with the controls.
  3. Do not allow operators to use a forklift truck with wet or greasy hands or shoes.

3. Properly Maintain Equipment

  1. Forklift trucks should be throughly inspected before starting work and the shift supervisor should be informed in any problems are identified.
  2. Daily checks should be carried out before starting off using the operators manual as a guide.
  3. Never operate a fork lift truck which has been identified as damaged. Repairs and maintenance should only be carried out by properly qualified engineers.

4. Starting off

  1. Make full use of the steps and hand grabs to climb into the forklift truck.
  2. Ensure that a comfortable operating position is found before starting the forklift truck and setting off, with all controls within arms reach. The armrests and seat position, as well as mirrors should all be adjusted before starting the forklift.
  3. Ensure that the safety belt is fastened before starting the forklift truck.
  4. Do not operate the forklift truck until fully seated in the operators seat, keep arms, legs and head inside the confines of the forklift truck at all times.

5. Correctly observe the operating environment

  1. Follow all work site rules, regulations and restrictions. Do not operate a forklift truck anywhere but designated roadways.
  2. A forklift operator should be in full control of the truck at all times - observing the direction of travel and being fully aware of their surroundings and potential hazards.

6. Keep speed down.

  1. Always operate the forklift truck within the speed limit.
  2. Travel slowly when turning, the combination of speed and turning sharply may unbalance the forklift and cause it to tip over.
  3. Never stop, turn or change direction suddenly.

7. Avoid Potential Hazards

  1. Avoid bumps, holes, loose materials and use caution when operating a forklift truck on a slippery floor.
  2. Do not attempt to drive over debris on the ground, such as pieces of wood. Doing so could cause the load to move and the operator to lose control.
  3. Slow the fork lift truck and use the horn close to corners, exits, entrances, stairways and anywhere else where vision is restricted or someone could suddenly enter the forklifts path.

8. Keep a safe distance from hazards

  1. Never operate two forklift trucks close to each other.
  2. Ensure you always have enough space to come to a controlled and safe stop.

9. Load Stability

  1. Always load the forklift truck with care, ensuring they are stable and balanced. Never attempt to transport an unbalanced or unsteady load with a forklift truck as falling loads can cause injury to people or damage.
  2. When travelling with a load ensure it is tilted back with the forks as low as possible, this will increase the overall stability of the forklift truck.
  3. Never travel or turn with the forks raised high above the floor.
  4. Always be aware of overhead obstructions when lifting or stacking loads.
  5. Ensure that loads are stacked carefully and be aware that they may fall when being stacked.

10. Clear Visibility

  1. Carrying a load low to the floor allows for good forward visibility however never drive in a forward direction when the load restricts your visibility.
  2. When front visibility is restricted drive in reverse, with the exception of moving up ramps.
  3. When stacking, ensure that you have a good view of the rack or top of stack where the load is safe.
  4. Is visibility remains obstructed always stop and confirm it is safe to proceed. If required get assistance from somebody as a lookout.

11. Forklift trucks are for carrying loads only

  1. Never let other people ride on the forklift truck unless a secondary seat is specifically fitted.
  2. Do not use the forklift truck to lift people.
  3. If there are no alternatives, use only a securely attached work platform and cage to lift a person, following the appropriate operating instructions.

12. Keep clear of the mast

  1. Do not permit anyone to stand or walk under the load or lifting mechanism. Falling loads can cause serious injury and even death to anyone standing directly below.
  2. Do not place hands or feet on the cross members of the mast. Serious injury will be caused if the mast is lowered onto appendages.

13. Driving on ramps

  1. Always remember to drive up ramps in a forward direction and down in reverse, especially when carrying loads.
  2. Never load or unload goods whilst still on a ramp.

14. Ensure load is secure is evenly Distributed

  1. Do not lift or move loads that are not completely stable and safe.
  2. Make sure loads are correctly stacked across both forks.
  3. Stack the load on the pallet or skid safely and correctly.
  4. Use securing measures such as ropes or bindings if required.
  5. Operate slowly when moving long, high or wide loads.
  6. Look out for other people or obstructions in your path of travel.

15. Take Special Care with Special Loads

  1. Take additional care when carrying a rounded, tall, long or wide load, making sure that the load balanced and well secured.
  2. Turn and work as slowly as necessary to prevent the load from shifting.

16. Refuelling

  1. Forklift trucks should only be refuelled at specially designated locations.
  2. Always switch the truck off completely before fuelling.
  3. For petrol or diesel forklift trucks, refuelling should take place in a well ventilated area away from any sort of naked flame or sparks.

17. When finished with the forklift truck for the day

  1. Park the forklift truck in a designated or authorised area.
  2. Fully lower the forks to the floor and apply the parking break.
  3. Ensure the forklift truck is secure, completely off the truck and remove the key.